1982 International Congress of Mathematicians - Warsaw
1. Secretary's Report on Preparations.
At the beginning of 1982, due to the events in Poland, the question of holding the Congress in Warsaw was raised and discussed again. In April 1982, the Executive Committee of IMU, considering the scientific prospects for ICM-82 at that time, decided to postpone the Warsaw Congress by one year. At the same time the Executive Committee decided to hold the General Assembly of IMU in Warsaw, as previously planned, in August 1982. The question of the Warsaw Congress was extensively discussed at that meeting. Eventually, in November 1982, the Executive Committee of IMU finally confirmed the organisation of ICM-82 in Warsaw in August 1983.
Poland's offer to be the host of the ICM-82 followed upon the promise of support made by the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Congress was particularly honoured by the fact that Professor Aleksander Gieysztor, President of the Polish Academy of Sciences had consented to be its Patron.
The scientific programme was the responsibility of the International Mathematical Union, acting through the Consultative Committee, whose members were Professors J P Serre (chairman), M Atiyah, B Bojarski, W Browder, Z Ciesielski, P Deligne, L Faddeev, S Lojasiewicz and S Winograd. The Committee was established in 1979 and in June 1980 decided to divide the mathematical programme into 19 sections and appointed the cores of the panels for those sections. The panels were finally set up and submitted their suggestions before the summer of 1981. Considering these suggestions and also suggestions received from some National Committees, the Consultative Committee in October 1981 selected 16 mathematicians to give one-hour plenary addresses and 137 to give 40-minute addresses in the sections. Some more names were added later, three after it was known that ICM-82 had been postponed. All the persons invited to deliver the plenary addresses and 129 of those asked to speak in the sections accepted the invitation. Of the total number of 145 prospective speakers 110 were present at the Congress including 13 plenary speakers. The manuscripts of 5 absent speakers were read out at the Congress.
The Fields Medals Committee consisted of Professors L Carleson (chairman ex officio), H Araki, N Bogolyubov, P Malliavin, D Mumford, L Nirenberg, A Schinzel and C T C Wall. The committee for the newly established Nevanlinna prize in "Mathematical aspects of Information Science" consisted of Professors J-L Lions (chairman), J Schwartz and A Salomaa. The decisions of these Committees were announced at the General Assembly meeting in August 1982.
Other preparations for the Congress were in the hands of the Polish Organising Committee. Its chairman was Czeslaw Olech, who took direct responsibility for all arrangements. A great amount of work was done by Bogdan Bojarski, Jerzy Browkin, Zbigniew Ciesielski, Engeniusz Fidelis, Stanislaw Lojasiewicz, Zbigniew Semadeni, Wieslaw Zelazko and other members of the committee. Altogether more than 60 Polish mathematicians took part in the preparations for the Congress. A small Congress Bureau was set up in 1979, assisted by the administrative staff of the Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. A particularly important role was played by Anna Sierpinska-Jankowska, who was fully engaged in the affairs of the Congress from the very beginning. Registration, accommodation and some other arrangements were handled by the Orbis Congress Bureau.
All financial matters were attended to by the Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Some facilities were offered to the Congress without charge by the Warsaw University.
The International Mathematical Union gave travel grants to young mathematicians from developing countries and the Congress waived their fees.
A short preliminary announcement about the Warsaw Congress was sent out in the autumn of 1980 to all the countries of the world in which mathematical communities were known to exist. The First Announcement was dispatched in July 1981 to the same addresses with the request that copies of it be further distributed among the mathematicians of the countries in question. The Second Announcement, containing detailed information about the Congress, planned for August 1982, and including the registration form, was mailed in December 1981 to those mathematicians who had applied for it; about 6000 copies were sent, mostly to individual addresses. Only a small number of the registration forms were returned in the spring of 1982.
The information about the April 1982 decision of the Executive Committee of IMU was mailed in May 1982 to the same addresses. When it was finally decided to hold the Congress in Warsaw in 1983, the Third Announcement was issued. It contained all the information given in the Second Announcement brought up to date and also a list of the invited speakers with the titles of their addresses as well as a rough schedule. The mailing of this announcement started towards the end of January 1983.
2400 ordinary members of the Congress were registered and about 150 accompanying persons from more than 60 countries; not all of them eventually turned up. The lectures and seminars were also attended by a number of non-registered participants. The mathematical activities of the Congress took place in the Palace of Culture, located in the centre of Warsaw.
2.1. Professor Lennart Carleson's address.
Professor Lennart Carleson address Congress with the following words:
On behalf of the International Mathematical Union I am happy to greet you all here today to begin the work of the 1982 International Congress of Mathematicians. Already at the Zürich meeting in 1897 it was stated that the first objectives of the Congress are to promote the personal relations between mathematicians from different countries and to give a survey of the state of our science. The rules of the congresses have, through the years, become firmer and since 1962 the IMU is formally responsible for the scientific content. This Congress meets under special circumstances, but the main objectives remain and to keep unbroken traditions has been a fundamental concern to the IMU.
The organisation of the Congress is by our rules in the hands of an organising committee. Following a well established tradition I now propose that the president of the organising committee, Professor Czeslaw Olech, is elected President of the Warsaw Congress.
2.2. The Presidential Address.
Professor Czeslaw Olech's Presidential address:
It is my pleasant duty to declare the 1982 International Congress of Mathematicians open. This is a great and happy moment for the Polish mathematical community, strongly represented here, on whose behalf I would like to welcome cordially all foreign participants. On behalf of all of you, I would like to welcome the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Professor Aleksander Gieysztor. We greatly appreciate the fact that he consented to be the Patron of the Warsaw Congress and that he has been so kind as to attend this ceremony in person. I also extend a most cordial welcome to all our distinguished guests. Among them, I wish to greet Professor Zdzislaw Kaczmarek, the Scientific Secretary of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Professor Stanislaw Nowacki, Deputy Minister of Science, Higher Education and Technology, Mr Jozef Wiejacz, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Stanislaw Szewczyk, Vice-President of the City of Warsaw. Organising a meeting of this magnitude would not have been possible without the active support of the Government. At an early stage, before the International Mathematical Union had made its final decision, the Secretary of the Polish Academy of Sciences explicitly promised to back the Congress should it be held in Poland; that promise has been fulfilled in all aspects. We have likewise received the support of the various governmental agencies throughout the preparations for the Congress. For the support and smooth cooperation of these agencies, I would like to express thanks and appreciation.
Professor Urbanik, inviting you to Warsaw at the closing ceremony in Helsinki, said: "For a long time Polish mathematicians have carried in their hearts the desire to organise an International Congress". The best example of those was Professor Kazimierz Kuratowski, once very active in the IMU, who was strongly advocating the initiative to invite the Congress to Poland. I am very sorry that he did not live long enough to share with us this happy moment. The hope that the desire to have the Congress in Poland would become a reality was based on the belief that the rich tradition of mathematical research carried out in this country makes Poland an acceptable choice for the Site Committee. We are privileged to have with us Professor Wladyslaw Orlicz, the Nestor of Polish mathematicians, who, for more than fifty years has been enriching this tradition in Poland. I propose that Professor Orlicz be elected Honorary President of the Congress.
The general aim of an ICM is to give an appraisal of current mathematical research. This important and difficult task could not be reached without wide international cooperation, and the active involvement and hard work of many leading mathematicians. The official mathematical programme is decided upon by an international Consultative Committee established for ICM by IMU. This Committee, after two years' work, produces the final list of invited speakers, taking into account the proposals of the panels and the suggestions of the National Committees. The Consultative Committee for the present Congress consists of six members appointed by IMU - Professor Jean-Pierre Serre, chairman, and Professors Michael Atiyah, William Browder, Pierre Deligne, Ludwig Faddeev and Shmuel Winograd. Three other members, Bogdan Bojarski, Zbigniew Ciesielski and Stanislaw Lojasiewicz, represent the Organising Committee.
May I propose that we thank the Consultative Committee for the work they have done and that we also extend our thanks to all those involved in preparing the programme.
The organisational responsibility for the Congress was shared by the Department of Mathematics of the Warsaw University, the Institute of Mathematics of the Warsaw Technical University and the Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. A number of mathematicians from outside Warsaw were also members of the Organising Committee.
Many institutions and individuals, mathematicians and members of the administrative staff have been involved in the preparations. I wish to thank them all for their hard work for their support, for sharing with me the responsibility for the Congress.
The role of the Organising Committee is mainly technical. This time, however, the Organising Committee was faced with some extra responsibility when the question of holding the Congress in Warsaw was again raised and discussed. In April 1982, the Executive Committee of IMU, considering the scientific prospects for the ICM-82 at that time, decided to postpone the Warsaw Congress by one year. This decision was accepted by the Organising Committee in the conviction that it would be advantageous for the final result.
The final scientific result you will be witnessing yourselves. It depends not only on those who have prepared the programme but also on the cooperation of those who have been chosen to fill in the programme with the invited survey lectures, both plenary and in sections. I regret that you will not have the opportunity to listen to some of the lecturers announced in the Third Announcement or even in the printed Programme you have just received.
Nevertheless the number of invited speakers present at the Congress, though not full, is over one hundred and I would like to welcome them particularly warmly. Applying for the Congress in Warsaw, we expected that this would be an opportunity for greater participation in an ICM of mathematicians from Poland and other socialist countries. I would like to observe with great satisfaction that our expectations have become a reality. Warsaw is a known centre for mathematical research. It was here that the first specialised international journal of mathematics in the world was founded. I am speaking of the Fundamenta Mathematicae. Here, for the last ten years, mathematicians from all over the world meet regularly at the Stefan Banach International Mathematical Centre, a common enterprise of the Academies of socialist countries. Let me express the hope that this Congress will contribute to all these international mathematical traditions to a considerable extent.
2.3. Address by the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Mr Honorary President, Mr President of the Congress, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and honour for me to welcome all of you on behalf of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the scholarly community of this country and the city of Warsaw. Our Academy from the very moment when the idea of holding the International Mathematical Congress in Warsaw appeared, declared its support to our colleagues involved in its organisation. The idea of having the Congress in Warsaw was in the air for quite some time and was especially cherished by the late Kazimierz Kuratowski, Vice-President of our Academy and a scholar who contributed greatly to the organisation of Polish mathematics during the past several decades.
The decision of the International Mathematical Union in 1978 to have the Congress in Warsaw undoubtedly expressed an appreciation for the contribution of Polish mathematics to the general body of mathematical knowledge. I assume this appreciation pertains both to past accomplishments and to the current state of mathematical research in Poland.
The difficulties in preparing the Congress have been many and of a quite varied nature. It is fortunate for us that most of them have been overcome. Now you are here in Warsaw as representatives of over sixty countries from all over the world, the total number of about two thousand three hundred mathematicians brought together to discuss mathematics and to develop academic and personal contacts. Your presence here is a proof that the idea of international scientific cooperation is strong enough to overcome impediments of any kind.
The months of August and September encompass two important dates in the history of this country. Thirty nine years ago on the 1st of August the Warsaw Uprising began and September 1st 1939 was the first day of the Second World War. Both these months are times of national remembrance, of reflection upon the history of our country.
During the Second World War the Polish scientific community was decimated. In particular, well over half of the actively working Polish mathematicians lost their lives. Many others found themselves in various countries all over the world. Universities, libraries and printing presses in Poland were largely destroyed. The educational system of the country was in ruins and scientific activity was disrupted.
The fact that this Congress is being held in Warsaw in 1983, thirty eight years after the war, gives evidence of the reconstruction of Polish science both in the organisational and the substantive sense. In particular, it is a proof of the renaissance and expansion of the Polish mathematical community. At present this community is many times larger than before the Second World War. The membership of the Polish Mathematical Society has increased at least fifteen-fold and there are active scientific groups in many universities and polytechnics. The Institute of Mathematics of the Polish Academy of Sciences has a very well supplied mathematical library, which serves the whole of Polish mathematics. This year we have celebrated the 10th anniversary of the activities of the Stefan Banach Mathematical Centre.
In these facts one can see a telling example of the vitality and enduring power of the cultural and intellectual heritage of mankind. On the other hand, this heritage has to be constantly regenerated with new creative forces.
Science is not a simple continuative accumulation of knowledge, but changes of level and crises. The levels are formed by the normal evolution of science, by the solution of particular problems according to steady and unquestionable paradigms. The crises are scientific revolutions, changes of paradigms.
It is remarkable to observe that mathematics, this oldest science, together with logic, is constantly generating new concepts, creating new domains of mathematical research, embracing and influencing ever wider areas of human knowledge and understanding of the world in general.
In the history of human thought we can easily trace many examples of principal importance showing how mathematical thinking essentially contributed to the fundamental change of our basic concepts of the structure of natural phenomena. We have only to think about the ideas of Copernicus, the relativity theory of Einstein or quantum mechanics. At present we are witnessing the impact on our lives and ways of thinking of the scientific and technological revolution based on the incredible possibilities of computers and their overall invasion. The resulting changes in our civilisation are not comparable in their scope and rapidity to anything experienced in the past. The social, economic, cultural and political implications of these changes are enormous.
What is the driving force of this development? What is it that keeps this wonderful edifice growing, integrated and relevant for the understanding of the world around us and having an aesthetic value as well?
Why should this rapidly expanding area of knowledge not have broken apart into separate and disconnected branches?
All these facts, questions, perhaps even answers, you understand much better than anyone outside your science. Of course I don't dare to answer these questions. I would rather listen. And reading the words of John von Neumann: "It is undeniable that some of the best inspirations in mathematics - in those parts of it which are as pure mathematics as one can imagine - have come from the natural sciences" and those of Aleksandr Danilovich Aleksandrov stating that "... the vitality of mathematics arises from the fact that its concepts and results, for all their abstractness, originate... in the actual world", I see more clearly the dual character of the relationship between mathematics and science in general. Mathematics is the leafage on the tree of science and contributes to the welfare of the whole structure but in order to live it must essentially depend on its roots.
Let me recall at this moment what David Hilbert said; "The organic unity of mathematics is inherent in the nature of this science, for mathematics is the foundation of all exact knowledge of natural phenomena. That it may completely fulfil this high mission, may the new century bring it gifted masters and many zealous and enthusiastic disciples."
The fact that you have systematically organised your congresses since 1900 testifies that the idea of Hilbert about the unity of mathematics is as valid now as it was eighty three years ago.
The fact that so many young people engage in mathematics and attend the Congresses and that to the most outstanding of them you award the golden medals of international recognition shows that you have succeeded in attracting "enthusiastic disciples". I know that you make conscious and systematic efforts to recruit and shape these disciples. After all, it is in mathematics that the idea of Olympic Competition for high school students arose. We note with pleasure the activities of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction accompanying the Mathematical Congress. You care for the young generation and you also care for outsiders to your science. You understand very well that all these efforts are in the long run essential for the vigour of your science, for its ability to grow and yet remain young.
I believe these actions and the attitude giving rise to them are the right ones in the much more general setting of "la Condition Humaine". Perhaps the mystery of staying young and of maintaining permanent development is revealed in these words: give your best, take in selectively.
I wish all of you and your fascinating science perseverance in pursuit of these goals.
I assume that, because of the universality and wide applicability of mathematical thinking, this Congress will be also relevant for science and human culture in general.
I would like to express my hope that the several days you spend in Poland will allow you to see a little of our country and give you an opportunity for direct encounters with Polish people, leading to a better understanding of our thinking, history and current problems. Let me express my best wishes for the success of the Congress.
2.4. Report of the Fields Medals Committee.
Professor Carleson, Chairman of the Fields Medals Committee, then presented the following report:
One of the most important activities of each congress is the award of the Fields prizes. The list of mathematicians who through the years have received these prizes is indeed impressive. Work in the committee for these awards gives an even stronger impression of the strength and breadth of current mathematical research and of the vitality of the young generation of mathematicians.
The idea of J C Fields to encourage young mathematicians has been a great success. As we are all aware, our science is now closely tied to the revolution of society created by computers. For this reason the IMU has accepted with great satisfaction an offer by the "University of Helsinki, Finland, to finance a prize in "Mathematical aspects of Information Science" with objectives similar to those of the Fields prizes. In recognition of Rolf Nevanlinna's contribution to our science, both in the IMU and in Finnish computer science, the prize has been named the Nevanlinna prize.
The committee for the Fields prize had the following members: H Araki, Kyoto; N Bogolyubov, Moscow; P Malliavin, Paris; D Mumford, Cambridge, Mass.; L Nirenberg, New York; A Schinzel, Warsaw; C T C Wall, Liverpool, and myself as chairman.
The decisions of the committees were already announced at the meeting of IMU in August 1982 here in Warsaw. The Fields prizes were awarded to
Alain Connes, Paris;
William Thurston, Princeton
Shing-Tung Yau, Princeton
and the Nevanlinna prize to
Robert Tarjan, Stanford.
I offer them our warmest congratulations.
May I now ask our Honorary President, Professor Orlicz, to come forward and give the prizes to the winners.
When Professors Connes, Tarjan, Thurston and Yau had received the prizes from Professor Orlicz, it was announced that after the opening session Professor H Araki would speak on the work of Connes and Professor Schwartz on that of Tarjan, and that the reports of Professor Wall on the work of Thurston and of Professor Nirenberg on the work of Yau will be read out in their absence.
The opening session ended with a concert of the men's choir "Harfa" conducted by Michal Dabrowski.
3.1. Professor Olli Lehto's address.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,
It has been customary at the closing session of the Congress to present a report on the activities of the previous General Assembly of the International Mathematical Union. Usually, the General Assembly is held just before the Congress, but this time, the 1982 General Assembly took place already a year ago. It was held here in Warsaw and was attended by the delegates of almost all member countries of IMU. With some experience from previous assemblies, I found that the Warsaw meeting had an exceptionally friendly atmosphere.
The resolutions of this General Assembly have been published in an issue of the IMU Bulletin which has been distributed long ago. Therefore, I think there is no reason to go into details here now.
As you may well guess, much of the discussion at the General Assembly centred around the ICM-82. The decision to hold the 1982 Congress in Warsaw was made by the IMU Site Committee in Finland in 1978. It was regarded as a very good decision, justified by the fine mathematical tradition in Poland and by the fact that Poland seemed to be easily accessible to mathematicians no matter which part of the world they came from. For three years, the organisation of the Congress was running smoothly. But as we all know, difficulties started at the end of 1981, just at the time when the main pre-Congress document, the Second Announcement, was being sent out.
The changed situation put the mathematicians into a waiting position, as it was not known whether the Congress could be held. It soon became clear that, in spite of the new conditions, the Poles were willing to continue their efforts for organising the Congress. However, in April 1982 the Executive Committee of IMU arrived at the conclusion that conditions for a scientifically good congress did not exist in August 1982. Making the final decision about the Congress was postponed till November. This procedure was endorsed by the General Assembly, which also provided the Executive Committee with much useful advice.
It was not an easy task for the Executive Committee to reach a decision. But after weighing the pros and contras, the Executive Committee unanimously decided that the ICM-82 be held in Warsaw in August 1983.
It is of course not up to me to make a general evaluation in public of whether our decision was correct or not. But let me say that I feel very happy that the ICM-82 now took place here. The continuity of international cooperation was maintained, and in spite of regrettable absences of some invited speakers, this was a high class meeting from the scientific point of view.
The positive feeling towards this Congress is also largely due to the excellent work done by our Polish colleagues. We have all seen how well everything is functioning, and we have sensed the warm and friendly atmosphere of the Congress. All this can only be achieved by the joint effort of a large number of people. Our thanks are due to all of them, the more so, as the work has been carried out under such difficult circumstances.
An exceptionally heavy load has been on the shoulders of one person, the chairman of the Organising Committee and President of ICM-82, Professor Czeslaw Olech. His skill and strength have largely contributed to the success of this Congress.
At the time of the General Assembly, we did not know whether ICM-82 would be held. Nevertheless, it was then already time to think of the 1986 Congress. The General Assembly confirmed the decision of the IMU Site Committee to accept the invitation of the United States National Academy of Sciences to ICM-86 at the University of California, Berkeley.
The IMU has a Special Development Fund whose principal aim is to help young mathematicians from developing countries to take part in ICM's. This time, the Union was able to give grants to 33 mathematicians from 21 different countries. Since the funds of the Union are limited, the success of this important project depends largely on donations made to the Special Development Fund. Fund raising for ICM-86 has already started, in that an appeal was recently sent to the National Committees for Mathematics of the member countries of IMU.
Let me conclude by emphasising the basic principle of IMU that politics should never find a foothold within the Union. As individuals, we may of course have whatever political views we choose, but when it amounts to organised international cooperation in mathematics, then political aspects should be put aside entirely. Our fine science should be the uniting link between us and make us in a true sense one big mathematical family.
3.2. Invitation to ICM 86 in Berkeley, California, USA.
Professor O Lehto then invited Professor Jack K Hale to speak on behalf of the Mathematical Community of the United States of America. Professor Hale spoke as follows:
We are very pleased that the next ICM will be held in Berkeley, California, USA.
On behalf of the mathematical community of the United States, I would like to extend a cordial invitation to all of you to attend that congress. My only hope is that we can be as gracious a host as our colleagues in Poland and that the congress will be as well organised and as successful as the ICM in Warsaw.
The invitation was accepted by acclamation.
Speaking on behalf of the members of the Congress, Professor Hans Freudenthal and Academician S M Nikol'skii expressed their thanks to their Polish hosts.
3.3. Professor Olech's closing remarks.
In his reply, Professor Olech thanked the speakers for their warm words of appreciation of the work of the organisers of the Warsaw Congress. He gave some statistical information about the Congress, thanked the Congress members for their contributions, particularly all the speakers and the chairmen of the various sessions. He passed on the words of thanks to all his Polish colleagues who participated in the arrangements and to the members of the Congress Bureau. He closed his address as follows :
In our work we have used much of the experience of the organisers of the previous Congress in Helsinki. In many cases we followed exactly the procedure they used. This greatly simplified our work and was a great help for us. I was in constant contact with Professor Olli Lehto, the President of the Helsinki Congress, and, in particular, his personal advice was of great value. I wish to thank him for all that very much and ask him to transmit our thanks to our Finnish colleagues. If we can pay this back by being of any use to the organisers of the next Congress in Berkeley, we shall be only too happy.
Let me thank you all for coming to the Congress in Warsaw. I hope you have enjoyed your stay both mathematically and socially. I wish all of you all the best for the years to come.
This way we came to what I personally consider a happy end and I declare the ICM-82 in Warsaw closed.