The Society of Mathematicians and Physicists of Serbia

Founded in 1948

The Society of Mathematicians and Physicists of Serbia was founded on 4 January 1948 when Tadija Pejovic, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Belgrade, was elected as the first President. However, there had been earlier mathematics societies in Serbia. A 'Mathematical Club' led by Anton Bilimovic had been founded by the mathematicians at the University of Belgrade in 1926 [1]:-
The main agenda of its monthly meetings were discussions of scientific results of its members and acceptance of these papers for publication in relevant journals.
Also in 1926 the mathematics students from Belgrade set up the 'Union of Mathematics Students' which ran a library, held meetings and published textbooks, working in collaboration with similar unions in Zagreb and Ljubljana. In 1937 the Mathematical Club became a broader society when mathematicians, physicists and astronomers from universities of Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana formed the Yugoslav Mathematical Society, based in Belgrade and with the Belgrade mathematician Tadija Pejovic as its President. It began annual publication of its meetings but this Society was disrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Because Tadija Pejovic is such a major figure in Serbian mathematical societies, we should give some details of his life at this point.

Tadija Pejovic was born on 2 November 1892 in the village of Dracia near Kragujevac in central Serbia. He attended the gymnasium in Kragujevac but his education was interrupted by the Balkan wars and then when World War I broke out in 1914 he was put into the military. He served with distinction throughout the war and even after it ended in 1918 he remained in Dubrovnik as commander of a railway station until mid-June 1919. Only then was he able to enrol as a student at the University of Belgrade to study mathematics. He graduated in 1921 and taught mathematics in a high school as well as becoming an assistant at the University. He was awarded a doctorate in 1923 for his thesis on the generalized Riccati differential equation which he defended on 6 February of that year. He spent 1925 in Paris before returning to the University of Belgrade. When World War II affected Serbia in 1941 he became a lieutenant colonel in the Serbian army but was captured by the Germans and spent four years in German prisoner of war camps. After his release in 1945 he was able to return to Belgrade and, after a year negotiating with the authorities, he was able to resume his work at the University.

When the Society of Mathematicians and Physicists of Serbia was founded in 1948 Serbia was part of Yugoslavia, as it had essentially been since 1919 when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was formed. Following the German invasion in 1941, Serbia was partitioned between Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Italy but, following World War II, Serbia became part of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia. In November 1947, the Committee for Science and Culture of the Republic of Serbia called for all mathematicians and physicists in universities, scientific institutes and schools to form a Society. A meeting of all those interested was arranged to be held in Belgrade on 4 January 1948. The report of this meeting by Dobrivoje Mihajlovic, at which the Society of Mathematicians and Physicists of Serbia was founded, set out the aims of the new Society [1]:-
1. The Society will contribute to the advancement of mathematical and physical sciences and to their popularization.

2. The Society will encourage scientific research in these fields.

3. The Society will deal with problems of mathematics and physics instruction in primary and secondary schools and in universities. It will cooperate with other educational institutions to advance the quality of this instruction.
Tadija Pejovic was President of the Society from 1948 to 1952, being re-elected in October 1948; February 1950; November 1950; and October 1951. During this time the Society held regular meetings, began to publish journals, opened branches in several parts of the country, and worked to promote mathematics at secondary school level. Mathematics competitions for secondary school pupils began to be held in the 1950s with the first in Belgrade being in 1958. Primary school mathematics competitions were organised from 1967. The Society became involved with working with talented young mathematicians, developing their skills to compete in Olympiad, and other, mathematics competitions. In particular summer and winter schools were organised.

The Society of Mathematicians and Physicists of Serbia became the Society of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Serbia, then in 1981 it split into three separate societies. At this time the Mathematical Society of Serbia was formed, the name by which the Society is known today. We have a separate page for the Mathematical Society of Serbia.

Other activities of the Society include the joint organisation of the Yugoslav Congress of Mathematicians which was first held in Bled, Slovenia, from 8-12 November 1949. On the final day of the Congress the Founding Assembly of the 'Union of the Societies of Mathematicians and Physicists of Yugoslavia' was held. After this the activities of the Society of Mathematicians and Physicists of Serbia were largely undertaken as part of the Union. The following Congresses have been held:
1. The 1st Congress, Bled, 8-12 November 1949;

2. The 2nd Congress, Zagreb, 4-9 October 1954;

3. The 3rd Congress, Belgrade, 19-24 September 1960;

4. The 4th Congress, Sarajevo, 4-9 October 1965;

5. The 5th Congress, Ohrid, 14-19 September 1970;

6. The 6th Congress, Novi Sad, 28 August-2 September 1975;

7. The 7th Congress, Budva-Becici, 6-11 October 1980;

8. The 8th Congress, Pristina, 23-27 September 1985;

9. The 9th Congress, Petrovac,22-27 May 1995;

10. The 10th Congress, Belgrade, 21-24 January 2001;

11. The 11th Congress, Petrovac, 28 September-3 October 2004.

12. The 12th Serbian Mathematical Congress, Novi Sad, August, 2008.
We note that Serbia had declared itself independent in 2006 so that is why the 12th Congress was the Serbian Mathematical Congress, but the numbering remained (i.e. it was still called the 12th).

The Society also ran an annual seminar every January on teaching mathematics at primary school level, secondary school level, and at college and university level.

The Society of Mathematicians and Physicists of Serbia had three publications prior to its split in 1981. These were Matematicki Vesnik, a scientific journal which began publication in 1949; Nastava matematike, a journal intended for the use of primary and secondary school teachers, which began publication in 1952; and Matematicki list za ucenike osnovne skole, a popular journal for primary school pupils, which began publication in 1966. We now give further information on these three publications (the information is taken from [2] so refers to the position in 2008).

Matematicki Vesnik

The first editor-in-chief of Matematicki Vesnik was Jovan Karamata. The first issue of the journal was published in the beginning of 1949. It consisted of four sections: Scientific articles, Problems and exercises, Critics and bibliography and Meetings of the Society. Eight articles (all in Serbian) were published in this issue, but abstracts were given in both French and Russian. Under Meetings of the Society appeared information about the activities of the Society of Mathematicians and Physicists of Serbia. The language of the journal changed over the years. The first issue for 1951 contained the first article written in French. The number of articles in foreign languages continued to increase and from 1989 onwards there were no more articles in Serbian. Now almost all articles are in English. Up to 1953 all the authors of articles were Serbian but, in that year, Einar Hille published in the journal. In subsequent years several leading mathematicians contributed, for example Waclaw Sierpinski contributed several articles and problems.

Nastava matematike

The Society began publication of this journal in 1952. From the year 1954 the title of the journal was Nastava matematike i fizike and in 1974, after 20 years of this title, a new series named Nastava matematike began having dropped the physics connection. The topics covered by this journal are related to the teaching and learning mathematics and computer sciences in primary schools, secondary schools and universities. Articles are written by leading Serbian and foreign authors and include translations of some important papers which have been published by the leading mathematicians interested in the problems of teaching and learning mathematics. Some of these article have had a significant influence on the mathematics curriculum.

Matematicki list za ucenike osnovne skole

The 'Mathematical Newsletter for Primary Schools' was first published in 1967. However, it soon turned into a journal for children between the ages of 10 and 15 used across the whole of Yugoslavia. It distributed around 80000 copies across the country. Eventually there were six issues of the journal per year. Each consisted of several sections: general mathematical articles, articles about the history of mathematics, problems from computer science, mathematical problems for primary schools, problems from entrance examinations for high schools, problems from mathematical competitions, mathematical jokes, chess problems, etc.

Two further publications began after the Society of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Serbia split into three separate societies in 1981. See our article on the Mathematical Society of Serbia for a description of these.

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. Mathematical Society of Serbia website.
  2. V Micic, Z Kadelburg and B Popovic, The Mathematical Society of Serbia - 60 years, The Teaching of Mathematics 11 (1) (2008), 1-19.

Last Updated February 2018