International 
Commission on the History of Mathematics

Report to the International Mathematical Union: 2002-2006

Karen Hunger Parshall (Chair) and Elena Ausejo (Secretary)

From 2002 through 2006, 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:

Beginning in 2002, 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 2006. Among the business discussed and the issues considered were: (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; (in 2005) discussion of national ICHM representatives, the selection of new EC-members, the selection and awarding of the fifth Kenneth O. May Medalist, and the organization of ICHM-sponsored activities at the International Congress for the History of Science in Beijing and elsewhere; and (thus far in 2006) discussion and coordination of a wide variety of ICHM co-sponsored events internationally for the Euler tercentennial in 2007.

Conferences /Symposia/ Congresses:

From 2002 to 2006, 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) (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006); "International Symposium on the History of Chinese Mathematics" (in connection with the International Congress of Mathematicians) (China) (2002); "Wallis Tercentenary Meeting" (United Kingdom) (2003); 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); “The Henk Bos Valedictory Symposium” held at Utrecht University in honor of the retirement of Henk Bos (June 2005); and three sessions—"The Ten Classics of Ancient Chinese Mathematics" (organized by Joseph Dauben (United States), GUO Shuchun (China), and Alexei Volkov (Canada), "Along the Silk Road" (organized by LI Wenlin (China), YANO Michio (Japan), QU Anjing (China), and Benno van Dalen (The Netherlands/Germany), and "Multicultural Transmission of Mathematical Knowledge" (organized by SASAKI Chikara (Japan), Roshdi Rashed (France), Karine Chemla (France), and FENG Lisheng (China)—at the International Congress for the History of Science held in Beijing, China (July 2005).Full reports on all of these conferences (except for the 2002 and 2003 sessions at the AMS) may be found on the ICHM website.

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 website.
  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:

The Kenneth O. May Medal is awarded every four years to the historian or historians of mathematics whose work best exemplifies the high scholarly and intellectual contributions to the field that May worked so hard to achieve. It was awarded for the fifth time at a special ceremony in Utrecht, The Netherlands on 30 June, 2005 to Henk Bos (The Netherlands) for his ground-breaking work on the history of seventeenth-century mathematics (see the ICHM website for the report).

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; Elena Ausejo (Spain), Secretary; Menso Folkerts (Germany), Treasurer; Ahmed Djebbar (France); Natalja Ermolaeva (Russia); Alejandro Garçiadiego (Mexico); Niccolò Guicciardini (Italy); Sergio Nobre (Brazil); QU Anjing (China); Luis Saraiva (Portugal); YANO Michio (Japan). Ex officio members are: Kirsti Andersen (Denmark); Joseph W. Dauben (United States); 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.