The Mexican Mathematical Society

Founded in 1943

The setting up of the Mexican Mathematical Society (Sociedad Matemática Mexicana) was proposed at the First National Congress of Mathematics in Saltillo, Coahuila, which was held 1 - 7 November 1942. It was officially founded on 30 June 1943 for a period of 50 years and, on 1 July 1993, this was extended by a further period of 50 years.

Before we look at aspects of the Society, let us go back to before the time that the Society was founded to see the influences that led to its foundation.

The person who was very influential in the setting up of the Society, despite the fact that he died seven years before the Society was founded, was Sotero Prieto Rodríguez (1884-1935). The son of the mining engineer and professor of mathematics Raúl Prieto González Bango and Teresa Rodríguez de Prieto, Prieto attended high school in Mexico City from 1897 to 1901, and then studied civil engineering at the National School of Engineers from 1902 to 1906. He taught mathematics in various schools and in the National School of Engineers. He made a special study of higher mathematics and in 1932 founded the Mathematics Section of the National Academy of Sciences "Antonio Alzate", now the National Academy of Sciences of Mexico. It was this group that led to the founding of the Mexican Mathematical Society. They met, during Sotero Prieto's lifetime, every Friday at 7 o'clock in the evening to listen to lectures on higher mathematics. People close to Sotero Prieto related that he told them that he would commit suicide at the ago of fifty if he hadn't made a major discovery in his speciality. In fact he did commit suicide on 22 May 1935 but his relatives disputed his reasons.

Several of those who were part of this group of mathematicians became founders of the Mexican Mathematical Society, but the person who perhaps was the most influential of these was Alfonso Nápoles Gándara (1897-1992). He was born in Cuernavaca, Morelos on 14 October 1897 and, from 1910, studied at the National Preparatory School. In 1916 he entered the National School of Engineers where he was taught by Sotero Prieto. He replaced Sotero Prieto as professor in that school in 1921. In 1930 he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Scholarship to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where, between 1930 and 1932, he attended fourteen courses. In particular he studied courses on Differential Geometry and Vector Calculus and, after returning to Mexico City, he taught the first courses in Mexico on these topics. He played a leading role in the creation of the Mathematics Institute and the Faculty of Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He was part of Sotero Prieto's group of enthusiasts for higher mathematics and, after Sotero Prieto's death in 1935, he was the main figure to keep alive the idea of forming a group of mathematicians to promote the subject.

Other mathematicians who played an important part in founding the Mexican Mathematical Society were Alberto Barajas, Bruno Mascanzoni, Francisco José Alvarez, Ricardo Monges López, Manuel Sandoval Vallarta, Nabor Carrillo Flores, Ricardo Toscano Barragán, and Carlos Graef Fernández. The First National Congress of Mathematics in Mexico in November 1942 was organised by Alfonso Nápoles Gándara, Alberto Barajas and Francisco José Alvarez. At this congress, a commission was set up consisting of the three organisers of the congress together with Carlos Graef Fernández, which was given the task of setting up the Mexican Mathematical Society. The commission completed its work and the official date of founding the Society was 30 June 1943. At the first meeting on that date, Alfonso Nápoles Gándara was elected as the first president of the Society. He was later honoured by being made an Honorary Life President.

The aims of the Society include:
  1. To promote the understanding of mathematics and to spread mathematical knowledge by means of publications and conferences.

  2. To stimulate and to maintain interest in mathematical investigation in Mexico, and to give investigators all possible facilities and support.

  3. To attempt to obtain the cooperation of all professors and intellectuals interested in the study of exact sciences and disciplines related to them, such as physics, astrophysics, astronomy, etc.

  4. To contribute to the improvement of mathematical education in the Mexican Republic, equally in elementary schools, secondary schools and universities.

  5. To publish scientific journals such as the Bulletin of the Mexican Mathematical Society and Miscelánea Matemática. To publish textbooks, monographs and proceedings of conferences.

  6. To organize mathematics conferences, meetings, congresses, and mathematical contests.

  7. To cooperate in solving mathematical problems that arise during investigations of other sciences.

  8. To promote the exchange of mathematics teachers from one school to another throughout Mexico.

  9. To promote the exchange of Mexican teachers with those of other nations

  10. To administer scholarships so that Mexican students, professors and researchers can improve their professional preparation in mathematics.

  11. To manage subsidies from the Federal Government, the States and the Municipalities to partially or totally cover the expenses demanded by the work necessary to achieve the aims of the Society.

  12. To manage donations from institutions or individuals for achieving the aims of the Society.
Bulletin of the Mexican Mathematical Society

The Bulletin of the Mexican Mathematical Society (Boletín de la Sociedad Matemática Mexicana) began publication in 1943 with one volume per year and two parts per volume. Alfonso Nápoles Gándara was the editor of this first series which continued publication until volume 11 in 1954. The Bulletin was not published in 1955, then the second series began publication in 1956 with José Adem and Emilio Lluis Riera as editors. This series of the Bulletin had four issues per year and 39 volumes were produced, the final issue of this series being in October 1995. A third series of the Bulletin began publishing in 1995, with one volume consisting of two issues each year, and this series continues to be published. Its current editors are Ramón G Plaza, Eduardo Santillan Zeron, and Luz de Teresa de Oteyza. It:-
... publishes original high-quality research articles in all areas of mathematics and its applications, as well as invited survey articles.
In 2002 Francisco Javier González Acuna, known as Fico, celebrated his 60th birthday and FICOFEST: A Conference in Low Dimensional Topology to Celebrate the Sixtieth Birthday of Francisco "Fico" Javier González Acuna was held in Médida, Yucatán, Mexico in December 2002. At FICOFEST there were 28 invited talks from topologists from around the world and Volume 10 of the Bulletin consisted of 35 papers associated with the conference. October 2014, Volume 20, Issue 2, was a special issue dedicated to Francisco Javier González Acuna on his 70th birthday.

Miscelánea Matemática

The Mexican Mathematical Society began publishing Miscelánea Matemática in 1972. Papers in this journal are in Spanish. Topics covered are: Algebra, Analysis, Applications, Combinatorics, Geometry, History of Mathematics, Obituaries, Logic and foundations, Probability, Dynamical Systems and Book Reviews. Ana Meda Guardiola coordinates the present editorial board which consists of 13 Mexican mathematicians.

International Meetings

The Mexican Mathematical Society organises international meetings on various topics. Examples are the International Symposium of Algebraic Topology held in 1956 and the International Symposium of Differential Equations held in 1959. A joint International Meeting of the Israel Mathematical Union and the Mexican Mathematical Society was held in Oaxaca, Mexico in September 2015.

Commission for equality and gender

The Commission for equality and gender was set up by the Mexican Mathematical Society and, under its initiative, Mexican women mathematicians held their first meeting in January 2014.

National Congress of the Mexican Mathematical Society

The Mexican Mathematical Society holds regular National Congresses. It has an Organizing Committee formed by members of various institutions of the country, which appoints coordinators of the different academic sessions. A Local Committee is formed that is responsible for the various activities of the organization in the local headquarters city and one of its members is part of the Central Committee. The 50th National Congress was held at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in October 2017.


The Mexican Mathematical Society has a Consultative Committee composed of the former presidents and three elected members. It has an Education Committee which covers education at all levels and develops projects in collaboration with various other institutions. The Provincial Schools Committee considers the different situations of the institutions that teach mathematics in Mexico. The Organizing Committee of the Mexican Mathematics Olympiad, established in 1987, looks for mathematically talented young Mexicans.

The "Sotero Prieto Prize"

The "Sotero Prieto Prize" was established in 1991. The prize is awarded by the Prize Committee for the best thesis in mathematics in Mexico in that year.

Comments by the Mexican Mathematical Society

The following quote is from [1]:-
The Mexican Mathematical Society accomplishes its goals thanks to the fact that its members dedicate effort and time to activities of service to the community and the country, independently of fulfilling their obligations in their institutions of origin. It should be noted that none of the members of the Company or the Board of Directors receives any remuneration for their work and time donated, which speaks very well of our Company. It works like the things that really are worth it, for the pleasure and the conviction to make them. The Mexican Mathematical Society carries them out thanks to the financial support of various institutions who have our greatest gratitude for being part of the noble aims of our institution. The Society is an interaction mechanism for mathematicians and provides links with people and institutions to enrich the results of these activities. It channels the concerns of the mathematical community to where it corresponds, organizes and disseminates them. Our Society has been the product of the dedication of many of its members. That dedication is greatly appreciated. It is an example that makes the entire mathematical and scientific community proud. It is a good role model. It reflects the efforts, ideals and achievements of a small community in terms of number but a large community in terms of its prestige, its selfless work and its enormous potential to enlarge our country.

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. The Mexican Mathematical Society website.
  2. The Mexican Mathematical Society, Science 102 (2647) (1945), 296-297.

Last Updated February 2018