International Commission on the History of Mathematics

Kenneth O. May Prize in the History of Mathematics

Kenneth O. May was a mathematician and historian of mathematics of great vision. He recognized the need for a unified international community of historians of mathematics and worked tirelessly over the last nine years of his life to effect such a change.

In 1968, May spearheaded a discussion that ultimately led in 1971 to the founding of the International Commission on the History of Mathematics (ICHM) for the encouragement and promotion of the history of mathematics internationally. As the first Chair of the new ICHM, May worked in two key ways to achieve these goals. In 1972, he coordinated the publication of the first World Directory of Historians of Mathematics, in an effort bring historians of mathematics more easily into contact with one another. Then, in 1974, he brought out the first volume of Historia Mathematica, the international research journal for the history of mathematics overseen by the ICHM. As Historia's first editor, May worked tirelessly to support and to hone the research efforts of historians of mathematics around the world.

Following May's death in 1977, the ICHM sought a suitable means by which to honor the memory of this remarkably selfless contributor to the international community of historians of mathematics. The result was the Kenneth O. May Prize given for outstanding contributions to the history of mathematics and first awarded in 1989 to Dirk J. Struik and Adolf P. Yushkevich on the occasion of the 18th International Congress of History of Science in Hamburg and Munich. In 1993, the ICHM commissioned the Canadian sculptor, Salius Jaskus, to design in bronze the Kenneth O. May Medal as part of the Kenneth O. May Prize. To date, the following distinguished historians of mathematics have been recognized for their work through the presentation of the Kenneth O. May Prize and Medal:

18th International Congress of History of Science in Hamburg and Münich, Germany, 1989:
Dirk J. Struik (United States) and Adolf P. Yushkevich (Soviet Union)

A. P. Juschkewitsch     Joe Dauben
Adolf Pavlovitch Juschkewitch at the ceremony (left) and Joe Dauben awarding the medals (right)

Dirk Jan Struik     Dirk Jan Struik
Dirk Jan Struik at the ceremony which was held on a boat in Hamburg


19th International Congress of History of Science in Zaragoza, Spain 1993:
Christoph J. Scriba (Germany) and Hans Wussing (Germany)

Scriba, Dauben and Wussing
The second Kenneth O. May Medal presented by Joseph Dauben to Christoph Scriba and Hans Wussing
Left to right: Christoph Scriba, Joseph Dauben, and Hans Wussing


20th International Congress of History of Science in Liege, Belgium, 1997:
René Taton (France)

Rene Taton
René Taton

21st International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Mexico City, Mexico, 2001:
Ubiratn D'Ambrosio (Brazil) and Lam Lay Yong (Singapore)

(See the report.)

Ubiratan d'Ambrosio
Ubiratan d'Ambrosio receiving the Kenneth O. May Medal
at the International Congress on History of Science and Technology
in Mexico City, Mexico, in 2001


Lam Lay Yong
Joseph Dauben presenting the fourth Kenneth O. May Medal to Lam Lay Yong
at the International Congress of Mathematics in Beijing, China, 2002
[Lam Lay Yong was actually awarded the medal, together with Ubiratàn d'Ambrosio, in 2001]

Valedictory Symposium on the occasion
of the retirement of Henk Bos, Utrecht, Netherlands, June 30, 2005:
Henk Bos (Netherlands)

(See the report.)

Jeremy Gray and Henk Bos
Jeremy Gray presenting the fifth Kenneth O. May Medal to Henk Bos


23rd International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Budapest, Hungary, 2009:
Ivor Grattan-Guinness (UK) and Rhada Charan Gupta (India)

(See the report.)

Craig Fraser presenting the sixth Kenneth O. May Medal to Ivor Grattan-Guinness at the
23rd International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Budapest, Hungary, 2009

The Kenneth O. May Prize and Medal was awarded to Professor R.C. Gupta at the closing Ceremony of the International Congress of Mathematics on August 27, 2011 in Hyderbad, India. The presentation was made by Kim Plofker (See video and press release)

gupta
R.C. Gupta (centre) with Kim Plofker (right) and Mohammad Bagheri (left) at the
International Congress of Mathematics on August 27, 2011 in Hyderbad, India

24th International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Manchester, UK, 2013: Menso Folkerts (Germany) and Jens Høyrup (Denmark) (See the report.)

gupta
Menso Folkerts (left) and Jens Høyrup (right) at the 24th International Congress of History of Science,
Technology and Medicine in Manchester, UK, 2013


The next Kenneth O. May Medal and Prize will be awarded in 2017 at the 25th International Congress of History of Science and Technology in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).