(Historia Mathematica 9 (1982), pp. 209-210)
Report to the Division of the History of Science of
the International Union
of the History and Philosophy of Science
By Christoph J. Scriba, Chairman
At the XVth International Congress in Edinburgh,
Professor Kenneth O. May, founder of this Commission as well
as of its journal Historia Mathematica, resigned from
the chairmanship because of his poor health. For the period 1977 to 1981, the
following Executive Committee was elected:
C. J. Scriba (Chairman), S. S. Demidov (Vice-Chairman),
L. Novy (Secretary), K.-R. Biermann, P. Dugac, Judy V. Grabiner,
I. Grattan-Guinness, R.C. Gupta, and K .O. May.
When on December 1, 1977, K. O. May died suddenly,
the main task of the Commission was to ensure continuous publication of
Historia Mathematica. J.W. Dauben, then Managing Editor, was
appointed Editor, and Esther R. Phillips Managing Editor. Production of the
photoready copy, formerly prepared at the Institute for the History and
Philosophy of Science and Technology of the University of Toronto,
was transferred to the offices of Academic Press in New York,
to which Professor May had entrusted the publication as of Volume 4 (1977).
Four issues a year (about 500 pages) have since been published regularly.
Financial considerations have necessitated successive adjustments
of the subscription rate, and so far it has not been possible to
introduce a more expensive, but aesthetically superior, form of
typesetting articles rather than printing from camera-ready copy.
Historia Mathematica could not have been published without the
continued effort of all its editors (including the
Book Review Editor Judy V. Grabiner and the Abstracts Editor
A. C. Lewis), the contributions of many members of the Commission, and
the support of Herbert H. Lehman College in New York.
The World Directory of Historians of Mathematics, first published
by Kenneth O. May in 1972, was issued by the Commission in a second,
enlarged, edition in 1978. Still essentially compiled by Professor May, it
was prepared for publication by Laura Roebuck, his former assistant in the
editorial office in Toronto.
Enlarged to nearly 100 pages, the new edition includes more than 1200
researchers, writers and teachers engaged in work related to the
history of mathematics. Listings are arranged alphabetically, geographically and by subject.
The directory file is kept up to date by the Commission with a view to future
Following the proposal made at the last
International Congress at Edinburgh. a Poisson Commemoration
has been included in the program of the
XVIth International Congress. It is being organized by our Commission,
in contact with the French National Committee, and will occupy
two sessions in Bucharest. Its purpose is to review the scientific work of
S. D. Poisson (1781-1840) and its historical roots and impact on the
development of mathematics and mathematical physics.
For the future, plans are being made to organize a summer school in the
history of mathematics at the University of Toronto, possibly in 1982.
Also, the International Mathematical Union has been approached concerning
a better representation of the history of mathematics at the next
International Congress of Mathematicians.
During the past years, the Commission has received some financial support
from the Division of the History of Science of the IUHPS; this is gratefully
acknowledged. While its journal financially lies in the hands of
Academic Press, money for printing the new directory had been put
aside by K. O. May.
The Executive Committee met in January 1980 on the occasion of the
23rd conference on the history of mathematics at the
Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach, Federal
Republic of Germany. Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft,
the Chairman was able to pay a visit to North America where he
had consultations with Professor May's former assistant and colleagues
at the Toronto Institute, and with the editors and
the publisher of Historia Mathematica in New York. In addition there
has been extensive communication via circular letters and
correspondence, especially between the Chairman and the Executive
Committee, but also with numerous members. Without their
continued advice and support, the achievements listed in this
report could never have been obtained.