The Colombian Mathematical Society

Founded in 1955

The Colombian Mathematical Society was founded in 1955. Let us say a little about the background to the founding of the Society.

The National University of Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia) was established in 1867 in Bogatá. There was a Faculty of Mathematics and Engineering which taught two years of mathematics before following that with three years of engineering. However, the mathematics was very old fashioned and did not cover the advances of the 19th century. The situation didn't change until the middle of the 20th century when two foreign mathematicians arrived in Colombia. These were Carlo Federici (1906-2004) and János Horváth (1924-2015) and since their role in the founding of the Colombian Mathematical Society is vital, we give some details of them.

Carlo Federici (known as Carlo Federici Casa in Colombia) was born in Ventimiglia, Italy, on 21 July 1906. He attended school in Genoa Sestri Ponente and then studied at the Instituto Víctor Manuel II in Genoa. He obtained a doctorate in physics from the University of Genoa in 1928 for his thesis Su un ds2 einsteiniano, then in 1930 a doctorate in mathematics for his thesis Sulle congruenze binomie. He became an assistant to Alessandro Padoa, working on mathematical logic at the University of Genoa from 1932 to 1942, then became professor of mathematical logic at the Cristoforo Colombo Gymnasium 1942-1948. As a Communist member of an anti-fascist group, he was arrested and imprisoned in 1945 and following this episode decided to emigrate to Colombia. He arrived in Bogotá on 8 April 1948. He taught at the National University of Colombia where he influenced the mathematicians there to become interested in mathematics for its own sake and not just as a tool for engineering.

János Horváth (known as Juan Horváth in Colombia and as John Horváth in the United States) was born in Budapest, Hungary, on 30 July 1924. He studied at the University of Budapest working under Lipót Fejér and Frigyes Riesz for his doctorate which he was awarded in 1947. He then spent time at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris before going to Colombia. He arrived in Bogotá in 1951 to strengthen the area of mathematics in the departments of engineering, architecture and economics at the newly founded Universidad de los Andes. However, he also joined the National University of Colombia where he taught several courses and held seminars on the latest mathematical developments which were completely new in the Colombian university environment. He founded the Revista de Matemáticas Elementales (Journal of Elementary Mathematics) in 1952 which was a joint publication of the National University of Colombia and the Universidad de los Andes. He moved to the United States in 1958.

The Colombian Mathematical Society was founded on 10 August 1955, at a meeting held at 7 o'clock in the evening in the house of Julio Carrizosa Valenzuela (1895-1974). He was the most enthusiastic of the engineers among the professors of mathematics at the National University. Influenced by Federici and Horváth he had become aware of the need to develop mathematics as an independent topic, and its importance to the future of Colombia. In addition to Julio Carrizosa Valenzuela, Carlo Federici Casa and Juan Horváth, the founding members of the Society were: Antonio María Gómez (1913-1979); Dario Rozo (1881-1964); Erwin Von Der Walde (1927-2016); Gabriel Poveda Ramos (1931); Guillermo Castillo Torres (1923-2000); Gustavo Perry Zubieta (1912-1986); Henry Yerly (1901-1984); Jorge Acosta Villaveces (1891-1965); Jose Ignacio Nieto (1930); Leopoldo Guerra Portocarrero (1911-1964); Luciano Mora Osejo (1928-2016); Luis De Greiff Bravo (1908-1967); Luis Ignacio Soriano (1903-1973); Michel Valero (1928-2008); Otto De Greiff (1903-1995); and Pablo Casas Santofimio (1927-1983).

Julio Carrizosa Valenzuela was elected as President of the new Society and he served from 1955 to 1957. We list at the end of this article all the Presidents of the Society. The statutes of the Society began as follows [1]:-
Article 1. Organise by means of the present statutes the "Colombian Mathematical Society" with its headquarters in the city of Bogotá, whose main objective will be to stimulate and maintain interest in mathematics and in teaching and research in this branch of science.

Article 2. In accordance with its objectives, the Society will promote the holding of conferences, meetings and congresses, as well as the publication of books, journals and monographs.
On 13 May 1999 the Society revised its statutes. The new statutes, which underpin the operating of the Society today, begin as follows [2]:-
Article 1. The Sociedad Colombiana de Matemáticas (SCM) (Colombian Mathematical Society) is an entity of scientific and cultural nature, non-profit, with legal status, having its own assets and whose domicile is the city of Bogotá.

Article 2. The Society is intended to promote the development of Mathematics in the country and its specific aims are:
a) Encourage research and improvement of teaching in mathematics.

b) Serve as a link between mathematicians and mathematics teachers.

c) Organise events and programmes that promote the development of Mathematics.

d) Ensure the achievement and improvement of conditions of people dedicated to the cultivation of Mathematics in its diverse areas, as well as those involved in its teaching and dissemination.
Article 3. In accordance with its aims, the Society may:
1. Collaborate with other bodies in matters of common interest.

2. Establish sections in other parts of the country.
The Society has two publications, the Revisita Colombiana de Matemáticas (Colombian Journal of Mathematics) and Lecturas Matemáticas (Mathematical lectures).

Revisita Colombiana de Matemáticas
The Colombian Journal of Mathematics is a joint publication of the Colombian Mathematical Society with the National University of Colombia. It had its origin in the Journal of Elementary Mathematics created by Juan Horváth in 1952 and published by the National University of Colombia and the University of the Andes. It was the first journal specialising in mathematics in the country and is the highest level that is published in Colombia. Internationally recognised, it reached Volume 51 in 2017 and, except for a few years of interruption between 1957 and 1960, it has appeared with some regularity despite the enormous problems faced by its editors to achieve the best academic and editorial quality.
Lecturas Matemáticas
Lecturas Matemáticas is the official newsletter of the Colombian Mathematical Society created in 1980 with the purpose of providing a platform for the Colombian community to publish works from the elementary to the advanced level. It is a joint publication of the Colombian Mathematical Society and the University of the Andes, specialising in mathematics, its teaching, its history and its applications. The journal aims to contribute to the dissemination of knowledge and mathematical results, to the development of mathematics in Colombia and to its international reputation. It also aims to promote professional links among members of the Colombian mathematical community. Lecturas Matemáticas is intended for all persons interested in general aspects of mathematics, its teaching and its use, in particular, to mathematics teachers from primary school level to university level, and to mathematically minded students.
The Colombian Mathematical Society awards three prizes: the Premio Nacional de Matemáticas (National Mathematics Award); the "José Celestino Mutis" Prize for the Teaching of Mathematics; and the "José Fernando Escobar" Prize for Research in Mathematics.

The Premio Nacional de Matemáticas
The Colombian Mathematical Society awards the National Mathematics Award to those people who have excelled in their professional work and who, through it, have contributed in a fundamental way to the development of mathematics in the country. The National Mathematics Prize has been awarded eleven times since 1989 (this article is written in January 2018), when it was awarded to Yu Takeuchi, a professor in the Mathematics Department of the National University of Colombia, Bogotá. For a list of the winners, see THIS LINK.
The "José Celestino Mutis" Prize for the Teaching of Mathematics
The Colombian Mathematical Society awards the "José Celestino Mutis" Award for the Teaching of Mathematics to those teachers of mathematics who have excelled in their professional work and who, through it, have contributed in a fundamental way to the development of mathematics in the country. It has been awarded every second year since 2011 and the presentation is made at the Colombian Mathematics Congress. The first prize winner was Jesús Hernando Pérez, from the Mathematics Department of Sergio Arboleda University in Bogotá. For information on José Celestino Mutis and a list of winners, see THIS LINK.
The "José Fernando Escobar" Prize for Research in Mathematics
The José Fernando Escobar Prize for Research in Mathematics is awarded to those who have excelled in their research in pure or applied mathematics, by achieving exceptional results published before being considered for the award. The first award was made in 2017 to Mauricio Fernando Velasco, professor in the Mathematics Department of the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá. His areas of work are algebraic geometry, combinatorics and optimization. The award is named for José Fernando Escobar (1954-2004) who was a leading Colombian mathematical researcher. Having graduated with a mathematics degree from the Universidad del Valle in 1977, he obtained a master's degree at the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics in Rio de Janeiro in 1979 and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1986, after overcoming a serious health problem. He worked on geometric analysis and became a professor at Cornell University in the United States. His influence on Colombian mathematics was enormous and decisive: for example since 1986 he visited Colombia at least once a year, guided and worked with the Geometry and Topology Group of Universidad del Valle, collaborated actively with researchers from the National University in Bogotá and Medellín, and the Universidad de los Andes, organized Summer Schools in Differential Geometry, Partial Differential Equations and Numerical Analysis, as well as giving numerous lectures and workshops.
Presidents of the Colombian Mathematical Society
1955-1957 Julio Carrizosa Valenzuela

1957-1963 Gustavo Perry Zubieta

1963-1967 Carlos Lemoine Amaya

1967-1968 Ricardo Losada Márquez

1968-1970 Jaime Lesmes Camacho

1970-1971 Otto Raul Ruiz

1971-1973 Jairo Charris Castañeda

1973-1975 Carlos Ruiz Salguero

1975-1983 Alonso Takahashi Orozco

1983-1987 Jaime Lesmes Camacho

1987-1990 Myriam Muñoz de Ozac

1990-1993 Víctor Albis González

1993-1998 Ernesto Acosta Gempeler

1998-2003 Leonardo Rendón

2003-2017 Carlos H Montenegro

2017- Bernardo Uribe

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. C H Sánchez, Homage to the Colombian Mathematical Society on the fortieth anniversary of its foundation (Spanish), Lecturas Matemáticas 16 (2) (1995), 231-243.
  2. C H Sánchez, Forjadores del desarrollo de la matemática en Colombia.

Last Updated February 2018