International 
Commission on the History of Mathematics

Report to the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science,
Division of History of Science: 2001-2005

Karen Hunger Parshall (Chair) and Jan P. Hogendijk (Secretary)

From 2001 through 2005, the International Commission for the History of Mathematics (ICHM) has continued to pursue its dual aims of encouraging the study of the history of mathematics and of promoting a high level of historically and mathematically sophisticated scholarship in the field internationally. It has done so in the following ways:

Meetings of the Executive Committee (EC) of the ICHM:

The EC had a face-to-face meeting at the XXIst International Congress of History of Science in Mexico City, Mexico in 2001. Beginning in 2002, however, the EC adopted a new meeting policy. It now meets at least four times yearly via e-mail to discuss matters of interest to the international history of mathematics community. It has just had its second e-meeting of 2005. Among the business discussed and the issues considered were: (in 2001) coordination of the final stages of preparation of the historiography volume (see "Projects" and "Publications" below) and selection of the May Medalists; (in 2002) discussion of rules of governance as well as the issue of how to increase and encourage EC co-sponsorship of symposia and special sessions internationally; (in 2003) the adoption, for the first time, of a number of rules of governance and a study of the history of mathematics on the Web; (in 2004) the broadening of the international representation on the EC (which resulted in a two-person increase of the EC membership) and the formation of a subcommittee to select the 2005 May Medalist; and (thus far in 2005) discussion of national ICHM representatives and the selection of new EC-members.

Conferences /Symposia/ Congresses:

From 2001 to 2005, the ICHM contributed to, organized, or co-sponsored numerous conferences, symposia, and congresses internationally: Special Sessions at the annual joint meetings of the American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America (United States) (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005) (for full reports on the 2004 and 2005 sessions, see the ICHM website); the conference "Certainty, Doubt, Error: Knowledge Production and its Impediments in the Practice of Pre- and Early-Modern Science" (Germany) (2001); the "International Conference of the New Millennium on the History of Mathematics" (India) (2001); Special Session at the XXIst International Congress of History of Science (Mexico) (2001); "International Symposium on the History of Chinese Mathematics" (in connection with the International Congress of Mathematicians) (China) (2002) (for a full report, see the ICHM website); "Wallis Tercentenary Meeting" (United Kingdom) (2003) (for a full report, see the ICHM website); and a Special Session in Honor of the Retirement of Ivor Grattan-Guinness entitled "The History of Nineteenth-Century Mathematics" at the joint meeting of the British Society for the History of Mathematics and the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics (United Kingdom) (2004) (for a full report, see the ICHM website). The ICHM is co-sponsoring three Special Sessions at the International Congress for History of Science to be held in Beijing, China in July of 2005.

Projects:

  1. The ICHM sponsored and coordinated an edition on the historiography of the history of mathematics, entitled Writing the History of Mathematics: Its Historical Development (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag, 2002). Co-edited by Joseph W. Dauben (United States) and Christoph J. Scriba (Germany), this 700-page volume represents a truly international collaboration with individual chapters authored by upward of twenty historians on the development of the history of mathematics in countries around the world.
  2. The ICHM has mounted and is maintaining a webpage of its activities and of matters of interest to historians of mathematics internationally. See the ICHM's webpages.
  3. The ICHM is presently compiling a database of information on historians of mathematics around the world. Relative to this World Directory effort, the ICHM has published "calls" to the international community of historians of mathematics to alert them to the existence of both the website and the questionnaire. These have appeared in journals Historia Mathematica, the Newsletter of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, the Newsletter of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Mathematics, and the Newsletter of the Chinese History of Mathematics Society (in Chinese), among others. It is the ICHM's hope that these efforts will result in due course in a reasonably complete database of historians of mathematics.

Publications:

  1. Historia Mathematica is the official journal of the ICHM. It appears four times annually and publishes roughly 525 pages of original research in the history of mathematics from all times and cultures. From 2000 through 2003 the journal was edited by Craig Fraser (Canada) and Umberto Bottazzini (Italy) and from 2003 to the present by Craig Fraser (Canada) and Benno van Dalen (Germany). It is published by Elsevier Science and is available electronically to subscribers of IDEAL.
  2. Joseph W. Dauben and Christoph J. Scriba, ed., Writing the History of Mathematics: Its Historical Development (Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag, 2002).

Medals:

In 2001, the Kenneth O. May Prize for Excellence in the History of Mathematics was awarded for the fourth time to Ubiratan D'Ambrosio (Brazil) and Lam Lay Yong (Singapore). D'Ambrosio received his medal at the XXIst International Congress of the History of Science in Mexico City, Mexico in 2001; Lam Lay Yong received her medal at ICM02 in Beijing, China. The Kenneth O. May Medal will be awarded for the fifth time in 2005.

The members of the EC of the ICHM:

The EC's current (through 2005) members are: Karen Hunger Parshall (United States), Chair; Craig Fraser (Canada), Vice Chair; Jan P. Hogendijk (The Netherlands), Secretary; Menso Folkerts (Germany), Treasurer; Natalja Ermolaeva (Russia); Alejandro Garçiadiego (Mexico); Niccolo Guicciardini (Italy); Sergio Nobre (Brazil); QU Anjing (China); Luis Saraiva (Portugal); SASAKI Chikara (Japan). Ex officio members are: Kirsti Andersen (Denmark); Joseph W. Dauben (United States); Eberhard Knobloch (Germany); and Christoph Scriba (Germany). The two IMU members are: Jeremy Gray (United Kingdom) and LI Wenlin (China). For a list of the current ICHM national members, see the back cover of any recent issue of Historia Mathematica.