The Singapore Mathematical Society

Founded in 1952

The Singapore Mathematical Society was founded on 26 June 1952 although at this stage it was named the Mathematical Society of Malaya and Singapore. Singapore had become a British Crown Colony in 1946 and in 1948 the Federation of Malaya was created which eventually (in 1957) gained independence. Alexander Oppenheim was Deputy Principal of Raffles College from 1947 until 1949. During this time he was active in planning to create the University of Malaya in Singapore and, in 1949, he became Dean of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Malaya. When the Mathematical Society of Malaya and Singapore was founded in 1952, Oppenheim became the first president. He held this position until 1959 when he became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malaya with one campus in Singapore and another in Kuala Lumpur.

In 1953 the Mathematical Society of Malaya and Singapore began publication of the Bulletin of Malayan Mathematical Society. This was published from 1953 to 1959 and then in 1960 the name was changed to NABLA. The publication NABLA stated [1]:-
NABLA is published by the Malayan Mathematical Society. It is intended to help in bridging the various gaps between professional and amateur mathematicians, students and teachers of mathematics. The level of mathematical abstraction aimed at is somewhere near university entrance level, although fairly wide variations are permitted on either side of this.
Daniel Pedoe was appointed as head of the Mathematics Department at the University of Singapore in 1959. He became the second president of the Mathematical Society of Malaya and Singapore in 1960 following after Oppenheim.

Let us go back to 1956 for in that year the Mathematical Society of Malaya and Singapore launched its first Inter-school Mathematical Competition. We will say a little more about this Competition below but first let us note that in 1967 the Mathematical Society of Malaya and Singapore was renamed the Singapore Mathematical Society, the name by which the Society is known today. Returning to our discussion of the Mathematical Competition, after several changes of name, in 1995 it was renamed as the Singapore Mathematical Olympiad [1]:-
The Singapore Mathematical Olympiad is the largest and oldest mathematics competition in Singapore. It started as the Inter-School Mathematical Competition in the mid-1950. It was renamed Singapore Secondary Schools Mathematics Competitions (for the Secondary Section) and the Singapore Mathematical Olympiad from the late 1980's. The current name Singapore Mathematical Olympiads (Junior, Senior and Open) started in 1995. Each year, thousands of students from all over the country take part in the Singapore Mathematical Olympiad.
The Society takes its Olympiad materials into Primary Schools [1]:-
The 5-day (15-hour) enrichment programme is intended for students who are currently in Primary 5 or Primary 6, and have a strong interest in mathematics. While some of the teaching materials will be Primary School Mathematical Olympiad type problems, the aim of the programme is to stimulate and develop students' creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.
The Southeast Asian Mathematical Society was founded in 1972. It arose from a tour of Southeast Asia by Wong Yung Chow from the University of Hong Kong who became its first president. The inaugural meeting of the Southeast Asian Mathematical Society was held in Singapore in July 1972 and the Society, in addition to having an independent existence, acts as a uniting Society for the Malaysian Mathematical Society, the Singapore Mathematical Society, the Indonesia Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Society of the Philippines. The Singapore Mathematical Society joined the Southeast Asian Mathematical Society as a founding member society in 1972. In the following year, 1973, the Singapore Mathematical Society published the first issue of Mathematical Medley. Kumkum Kumar Sen, the President in 1973, wrote [1]:-
In launching this 'Mathematical Medley', our Society desires to demonstrate that its functions are not confined to a few specialists alone. An Editorial Board consisting of some of our most devoted, energetic and competent colleagues have taken upon themselves the onerous task of sharing their experiences and information and those of our fellow members with the other enthusiasts of the subject in Singapore. This modest publication is expected to contain amongst other things, mathematical news in general, popular articles on contemporary mathematics and a problem-solving corner. It is designed to generate in our members a genuine interest in the subject, which has aptly been described as "The Queen and the Servant of Science". If it can live up to this objective, the Society will consider its efforts as more than doubly rewarded.
The Mathematical Medley, which continues to be published today, contains mathematics articles aim mainly for students and teachers in secondary schools and junior colleges, a problem corner, book reviews and reports of activities of the Society. It is distributed free to members of the Society.

In 1975 the Society joined both the International Mathematical Union, where it represented Singapore, and in the same year the Society also became an Institutional Member of the Singapore National Academy of Science.

The Society initiated its Distinguished Visitor Programme in 1998. This wide ranging programme was designed to bring distinguished mathematicians to Singapore to interact with the professional university mathematicians in the country. However, the programme was much broader than this for it also had distinguished mathematicians visiting schools in Singapore to interact with both mathematics teachers and their pupils [1]:-
... the aim of the Programme is to expose as large and diverse an audience as possible to the excitement and relevance of mathematics, thereby enhance the awareness of mathematics in our society.
Experienced mathematics professors from Singapore universities go into schools with the following aim [1]:-
The philosophy of this programme is to bring real-life mathematics down to the level of secondary schools. We want to tell students that mathematics is not dry and boring - in fact, intellectually-challenging mathematics is fun and not difficult to master! Our approach involves formal lectures, hands-on practice sessions as well as games and puzzles. The style of presentation is tailored to make our materials accessible to students with a good grasp of mathematics at the secondary level.
The Society also organises Lectures and Workshops [1]:-
The Singapore Mathematical Society organises a wide variety of lectures and workshops every year. The talks are delivered by international and local experts in mathematics and its applications, and mathematics education. Most of the talks are aimed at a general audience and are suitable for schools students and teachers. The aims are to raise awareness of aspects of mathematics aside from the normal school curriculum, and to promote interest in mathematics among students, teachers, and the general public.
Presidents of the Singapore Mathematical Society
1952-1959 Alexander Oppenheim

1960 Daniel Pedoe

1961 Jayaratnam Eliezer

1962-1972 P H Diananda

1972-1973 Kumkum Kumar Sen

1974 P H Diananda

1975 Lam Lay Yong

1976-1977 Kumkum Kumar Sen

1978-1979 Chew Kim Lin

1980-1982 Peng Tsu Ann

1983 Chew Kim Lin

1984 Louis Chen Hsiao Yun

1985-1986 Lam Lay Yong

1987 Peng Tsu Ann

1988-1990 Louis Chen Hsiao Yun

1991-1993 Leonard Y H Yap

1994-1995 Chong Chi Tat

1996-1997 Koh Khee Meng

1998-2000 Lee Seng Luan

2001-2005 Tan Eng Chye

2006-2008 Pang Yu Hin

2009-2012 Zhu ChengBo

2013-2016 Ling San

Visit the society website.

References (show)

  1. Singapore Mathematical Society website.

Last Updated February 2018