Spring 2006


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From the Director


Douglas N. Arnold
Doug Arnold,
IMA Director

On May 30 a new web site, mathinstitutes.org, was launched. The site, which is served from a machine at the IMA, is a web portal for the seven mathematical sciences institutes of the National Science Foundation.

The site features:
  • A description of and easy access to all seven institutes, American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) in Palo Alto, Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) in Princeton, Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) in Minneapolis, Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) in Los Angeles, Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI) in Columbus, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, and Statistical and Applied Mathematical Institute (SAMSI) in Research Triangle Park.
  • An events database which can be browsed or searched by institute, keyword, dates, and program length, giving access to all the programs at all the institutes.
  • An ever expanding collection of research highlights pointing out some of the scientific outcomes from the institutes.
  • A search box which interacts with Google to return matches which occur at any of the institutes' web sites.

The web portal is the most visible outcome of the Mathematical Sciences Institute Directors Council, which was formed in an effort to maximize the value of the portfolio of mathematical sciences institutes supported by the NSF. As Bill Rundell, director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the NSF, wrote in a recent article, the collection of NSF math institutes is "a jewel in the U.S. mathematical crown," and cooperation and coordination "allows the whole to far exceed the sum of the individual institutes themselves." Such cooperation and coordination requires significant effort, and to this end the NSF institutes formed a math institute directors council. The portal was finalized, after a year in development, at the third of our annual two-day meetings, which took place last month at MSRI.

The NSF institutes are themselves only a part of the picture. In Canada, which has invested heavily in math institutes, the Centre de Recherches Mathématiques (CRM) in Montréal, the Fields Institute in Toronto, and the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) in the Pacific Northwest, are big players in the mathematical landscape, along with the Banff International Research Stations, a mathematical conference center with significant funding from NSF. North America is also home to private institutes, most notably the Clay Mathematical Institute, and smaller institutes such as DIMACS at Rutgers and CSCAMM at University of Maryland. Europe has developed an umbrella organization for their many math institutes called ERCOM (European Research Centres on Mathematics), with 25 member institutes. Asia hosts many established and recently founded institutes as well, and mathematical sciences institutes are flourishing or taking root in South America, the Australian subcontinent, India, and Africa as well. An international committee called IMSI (International Mathematical Sciences Institutes) exists to try to foster cooperation and communication in this diverse and globe-spanning mathematical enterprise. As co-coordinator of IMSI, I am now in the midst of planning our next major meeting, which will take place at the International Congress of Mathematicians this August in Madrid. (Contact me if you would like further information.) Perhaps an intl-mathinstitutes.org portal will grow from this effort. For now, I hope that many mathematicians will find mathinstitutes.org a useful tool. Give it a look. I would very much welcome your suggestions and comments.