Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prof Ingrid Daubechies

Woman Mathematician
to Provide Leadership

Reports Vinod Varshney

First time a woman mathematician Prof. Ingrid Daubechies would provide leadership to international cooperation in mathematics. She has been elected the president of the International Mathematical Union, an august body of mathematicians established nine decades ago.

The IMU elected Tuesday its Executive Committee also for the term 2011–14. It has one Indian also Vasudevan Srinivas.

Prof. Daubechies’ election is doubly encouraging as the first International Conference of Women Mathematicians was inaugurated in Hyderabad on 17 August. Besides, she is the first woman Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, New Jersey. She is also the first woman to receive the National Academy of Sciences Medal in Mathematics (2000).

Prof. Daubechies is a mathematician and a physicist and works in the Department of Mathematics and in the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. Born in Belgium in 1954, she is now settled in the US (1987 onwards) after her marriage.

In her election speech, Prof. Daubechies expressed happiness that pure and applied mathematicians were interacting more with each other. “I am very interested in how emerging countries develop mathematics…There is enormous potential in young people...In a sense, mathematics is easier for an emerging country to develop than physics or chemistry because you do not need to have a big layout in materials and labs and so on and lot more money. In mathematics, once you build a nucleus who can work together, then the sky is the limit!”

Next Congress would be in Korea

The next International Congress of Mathematicians will be hosted by Korea. The decision was taken by voting at the 16th General Assembly meeting held in Bangalore. Hyungju Park, a member of the Korean delegation in his presentation at the General Assembly told, ‘In IMO (International Mathematical Olympiad), Korea is now steadily ranking third or fourth... mathematics is becoming a very popular subject in Korea. When kids enter college, they take a college entrance exam and they choose their majors. The second most popular area in major universities right now is mathematics. This is something we didn’t expect before. So definitely math is becoming a very popular subject and we think that our ICM efforts also contributed to that. We are telling young students that math is a fascinating subject and there are things that are happening.’

“The relation between the math community and industry is also becoming very strong. Many young students are getting interested in mathematics especially due to TV coverage. Seventy percent of IMO medalists in Korea are choosing math as their college majors – most of them will go on to get Ph Ds in mathematics.”


  1. Hats off Prof Ingrid ! It is good this happened in India. Bring more girls into mathematics, this can give highly paid jobs to girls. Indian girls fear maths too much.

  2. Maths improves anybody's job opportunity then why it is feared by any body--girl or boy.