The Israel Mathematical Union

Founded in 1953

The Israel Mathematical Union was founded on 2 March 1953 and held its first meeting with eleven short lectures on 28 September of that year.

At first I [EFR] failed to find the exact date of founding of the Israel Mathematical Union but could only deduce that it must have been in the very early 1950s. One bound on the date came from the fact that at the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Amsterdam in September 1954, three mathematicians, B Amirà, M Fekete, and A A Fraenkel, attended giving their affiliation as 'The Israel Mathematical Union'. Also in 1954 Moshe Jarden recalls attending a meeting of the Union with his father Dov Jarden. Moshe Jarden writes that his father had a love for [2]:-
... both Mathematics and the Hebrew language resulted in 1946 in establishing a journal in Mathematics entitled "Riveon LeMathematika" (i.e. Mathematical Quarterly). Almost all articles were in Hebrew (with abstracts in English) and the contributors were accordingly members of the Institute of Mathematics of the Hebrew University and people around it. ... Not only was my father the founder of the Riveon, he was also the publisher, the typist, and the salesman of the volumes of the journal. I still remember that when I was 12, that is in 1954, my father took me to a meeting of the Israel Mathematical Union that took place at the Institute of Mathematics of the Hebrew University. At that time the Institute resided in the north wing of King David Hotel in Jerusalem. So, I sat at a table in a lobby and sold the volumes of the Riveon to the participants of the meeting, while my father entered the lecture hall. I still remember that one of the participants was Paul Erdős, who called me an "epsilon".
Moshe Jarden also writes about a discussion with Shmuel Agmon [2]:-
Although Agmon is 95 years old today, he just joined the Institute of Mathematics at the Hebrew University in 1952. As a new young member of the Institute, he was not involved in the Israel Mathematical Union. However, he told me, he believed that the Union had been established after the war of independence (which ended in 1949), so may be some time after 1950. A proof of this estimate is the name "Israel" which is part of the title of the Union. If the Union were founded before the war of independence, it would have be called "Ha-igud Ha-eretz Israeli LeMathematika" (in Hebrew), meaning "The Land of Israel Union of Mathematics". This gives the desired lower limit for the establishing date of the Union.
This was worth relating since, although it did not achive an exact date for the founding of the Union, it did give worthwhile information about it. We received more precise details of the date of founding in a later message from Amir Yehudayoff, the present secretary of the Israel Mathematical Union who gave us the date the Union was founded as 2 March 1953. Moshe Jarden also sent another message in which he explained that he checked Volume 7 of the Riveon LeMathematika and found on page 82 an announcement about a meeting of the Israel Mathematical Union on Monday 28 September 1953. The announcement includes a list of eleven short lectures that were given during the morning of that day. Shmuel Agmon, Jacob Levitzky and Dov Jarden appear on the list of the lecturers.

In [3] the following description of the Union is given:-
The Israel Mathematical Union is the professional association of mathematicians in Israel, which works actively to encourage advanced mathematical research and teaching. The Israel Mathematical Union maintains contacts with other mathematical associations worldwide: it is a corporate member of the European Mathematical Society [since 1991], an associate member of the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and has a reciprocity membership agreement with the American Mathematical Society, and with the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
There are seven universities in Israel where mathematical research is carried out. These are Bar-Ilan University, Ben-Gurion University, Haifa University, Hebrew University, Tel-Aviv University, the Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology), and the Weizmann Institute of Science graduate school. The way that the Israel Mathematical Union is set up means that the officers of the Union, the President, Secretary and Treasurer, serve for two years. These positions rotate round the seven research universities with all three positions being filled by faculty members of the same institution.

The Union holds an annual two-day meeting during which there are invited addresses on a range of different mathematical topics of high current interest. Although a relatively small country, with a population of around 8.5 million, the country has a high level of mathematical research [3]:-
Despite the small size of the country, mathematical activity in Israel is very intense. This intensity is evidenced by our specialised research institutes (located in different departments), several hundred graduate students, and five mathematical journals published in Israel ...
In fact the specialised research institutes are: The Abraham and Sarah Gelbart Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Bar Ilan University; The Center for Advanced Studies in Mathematics, Ben-Gurion University; The Center for Mathematical Sciences, Technion; The Edmund Landau Center for Research in Mathematical Analysis and Related Areas, Hebrew University; The Emmy Noether Mathematical Institute, Bar-Ilan University; and The Galilee Research Center for Applied Mathematics of Ort Braude College.

The Israel Mathematical Union awards three major prizes. These are: (i) The Anna and Lajos Erdős Prize in Mathematics founded by Professor Paul Erdős; (ii) The Levitzki Prize in Algebra; and (iii) The Haim Nessyahu Prize in Mathematics. Let us now give brief details of each prize.

The Anna and Lajos Erdős Prize in Mathematics

This prize was first awarded in 1977 and was, at that time, known as the Erdős Prize. The name was changed in 1996 to the Anna and Lajos Erdős Prize reflecting the original wish of Paul Erdős. Anna and Lajos Erdős were Paul Erdős's parents. The prize is awarded to an Israeli mathematician in an institution of higher education in Israel, in the fields of theoretical mathematics or computer science, who was under the age of 41 as of 31 May in the award year. The chairman of the jury making the award is appointed by the Committee of the Israel Mathematical Union. The prize is awarded at the Union's annual conference and the recipient is invited to lecture on their work to that conference. For a list of winners of this prize, see THIS LINK.

The Levitzki Prize in Algebra

The Levitzki Prize is awarded in memory of Jacob Levitzki and his wife Charlotte. Jacob Levitzki served for many years as a professor of mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served as chairman of the Institute of Mathematics and was considered the pioneer and founder of the field of algebra in Israel. Charlotte Levitzki (née Ascher) was born in Berlin in 1910. She became a librarian and worked in a large bookstore until the Nazis led by Hitler came to power in 1933. Following the advice of her employer, who predicted the coming disaster, she decided to leave for Paris and then emigrated to Palestine. In 1939 she married Jacob Levitzki and the family settled in Jerusalem. After Jacob Levitzki's death, she restarted her career as a librarian. She rose quickly through the ranks of the Hebrew University National Library and became head of the acquisition department, a role she held until she retired in 1972. From that time, almost until her death in 1997, she volunteered in various institutions, including Hadassah hospital. The Levitzki Prize is awarded once every two years to an outstanding Israeli mathematician who undertakes research in algebra or related topics such as algebraic number theory or algebraic geometry. The recipient must have been awarded their doctorate not longer that seven year before 31 December preceding the award. The jury for the prize is chaired by the president of the Israel Mathematical Union and consists of two further mathematicians who remain anonymous. The prize is awarded at the Union's annual conference and the Levitzki family is invited to the award ceremony. For a list of winners of this prize, see THIS LINK.

The Haim Nessyahu Prize in Mathematics

The Haim Nessyahu Prize has been awarded annually since 1995. Before describing the prize, let us give some information about Haim Nessyahu following the biography in [1]:

Haim Nessyahu was born in Tel Aviv, on 21 June 1964, the only son to Judith and Mordechay Nessyahu. His long journey of studying began at home, where his intellectual and almost antipodal mother and father created a very fertile ground for learning and nourished his zest for learning, questioning and thinking. His formal education began in 1970 in the "Gavrieli" school, in Tel Aviv. Then, in 1973, Haim joined a newly formed class of gifted children, the first of its kind in Israel. Haim stayed with this class throughout the years in "Gretz" primary school and high-school "Ironi Dalet". In that class, Haim met most of his lifetime friends that accompanied him and his family until his last day and beyond. In 1982, Haim joined the military academic reserve, in the framework of which he studied towards a B.Sc. degree in mathematics and computer science at Tel Aviv University. He graduated in 1984, Summa Cum Laude. During the following five-year military service in the Intelligence Force, Haim completed his Masters in applied mathematics under the supervision of Professor Eitan Tadmor and began working on his doctoral thesis. After resigning from the army, in 1989, he joined Professor Tadmor at NASA Langley Research Center, in Hampton Virginia, as a graduate fellow, where he continued his mathematical research. From there, Haim went on a six-month backpacking trip to South America, after which he returned to Tel Aviv University as an Instructor. He completed his doctoral dissertation in 1994 and was accepted for a post-doctoral position as Assistant Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics at the University of Los Angeles. Before departing to Los Angeles, Haim and Dafna, his partner, went on a trip to the Far East. At dawn of 26 April 1994, on their way down from the Annapurna Mountain in Nepal, Haim suffered heart failure and passed away.

The Haim Nessyahu Prize was established by Haim Nessyahu's parents in memory of their son. The award is given for outstanding achievements in a mathematical Ph.D. dissertation. A specially appointed committee evaluates the submissions and the most outstanding one is selected to receive the prize. We list the winners of this award, together with the titles of their theses at THIS LINK.

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. Israel Mathematical Union website.
  2. M Jarden, Personal Communication, Mevasseret Zion (5 December 2017).
  3. M Teicher, Israel Mathematical Union, European Mathematical Society Newsletter 47 (2003), 25.

Last Updated February 2018