The International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) is the largest conference for the topic of

"Mathematics without borders": a book review

''CMS Notes'', vol 31, no. 3, April 1999, pp. 3-5 The

ICM through history.

Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society, no. 63, March 2007, pp. 16-21. Accessed December 23, 2009. For the 1950 ICM in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Laurent Schwartz, one of the Fields Medalists for that year, and

Report on the Berlin ICM.

AWM Newsletter, 28(6), November–December 1998, pp. 3-8 The 1998 congress was attended by 3,346 participants. The

ICM 2014

was held in Seoul, South Korea, on August 13–21, 2014. The

2018 Congress

took place in

''Mathematicians of the World, Unite!: The International Congress of Mathematicians: A Human Endeavor''

AK Peters, 2009. ; pp. 95-96 No Soviet mathematicians participated in the 1936 ICM, although a number of invitations were extended to them. At the 1950 ICM there were again no participants from the Soviet Union, although quite a few were invited. Similarly, no representatives of other

''Mathematicians of the World, Unite!: The International Congress of Mathematicians: A Human Endeavor''

AK Peters, 2009. ; pp 149-150. Vavilov's message was seen as a hopeful sign for the future ICMs and the situation improved further after

Mathematics without borders: a history of the International Mathematical Union.

Springer-Verlag, 1998. ; pp. 205-206 However, the IMU insisted that the decisions regarding invited speakers and Fields medalists be kept under exclusive jurisdiction of the ICM committees appointed for that purpose by the IMU.

''Mathematicians of the World, Unite!: The International Congress of Mathematicians: A Human Endeavor''

AK Peters, 2009. *Olli Lehto.

''Mathematics without borders: a history of the International Mathematical Union''

Springer-Verlag, 1998. *Donald J. Albers,

"Let's Meet at the Congress"

''

International Mathematical Congress

'' held in connection with the

International Mathematical Union: Proceedings 1893-2014

ICM 1998

ICM 2002

ICM 2006

ICM 2014

ICM 2018

ICM 2022

{{Authority control Recurring events established in 1897 Mathematics conferences

mathematics
Mathematics is an area of knowledge that includes the topics of numbers, formulas and related structures, shapes and the spaces in which they are contained, and quantities and their changes. These topics are represented in modern mathematics ...

. It meets once every four years, hosted by the International Mathematical Union
The International Mathematical Union (IMU) is an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of mathematics across the world. It is a member of the International Science Council (ISC) and supports ...

(IMU).
The Fields Medal
The Fields Medal is a prize awarded to two, three, or four mathematicians under 40 years of age at the International Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), a meeting that takes place every four years. The name of the award ...

s, the Nevanlinna Prize (to be renamed as the IMU Abacus Medal), the Gauss Prize, and the Chern Medal are awarded during the congress's opening ceremony. Each congress is memorialized by a printed set of Proceedings
In academia and librarianship, conference proceedings is a collection of academic papers published in the context of an academic conference or workshop. Conference proceedings typically contain the contributions made by researchers at the conferen ...

recording academic papers based on invited talks intended to be relevant to current topics of general interest. Being invited to talk at the ICM has been called "the equivalent ... of an induction to a hall of fame
A hall, wall, or walk of fame is a list of individuals, achievements, or other entities, usually chosen by a group of electors, to mark their excellence or fame in their field. In some cases, these halls of fame consist of actual halls or muse ...

".
History

Felix Klein
Christian Felix Klein (; 25 April 1849 – 22 June 1925) was a German mathematician and mathematics educator, known for his work with group theory, complex analysis, non-Euclidean geometry, and on the associations between geometry and grou ...

and Georg Cantor
Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor ( , ; – January 6, 1918) was a German mathematician. He played a pivotal role in the creation of set theory, which has become a fundamental theory in mathematics. Cantor established the importance o ...

are credited with putting forward the idea of an international congress of mathematicians in the 1890s.A. John Coleman"Mathematics without borders": a book review

''CMS Notes'', vol 31, no. 3, April 1999, pp. 3-5 The

University of Chicago
The University of Chicago (UChicago, Chicago, U of C, or UChi) is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Its main campus is located in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. The University of Chicago is consistently ranked among the ...

, which had opened in 1892, organized an International Mathematical Congress at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, where Felix Klein participated as the official German representative.
The first official International Congress of Mathematicians was held in Zurich in August 1897. The organizers included such prominent mathematicians as Luigi Cremona
Antonio Luigi Gaudenzio Giuseppe Cremona (7 December 1830 – 10 June 1903) was an Italian mathematician. His life was devoted to the study of geometry and reforming advanced mathematical teaching in Italy. He worked on algebraic curves and al ...

, Felix Klein
Christian Felix Klein (; 25 April 1849 – 22 June 1925) was a German mathematician and mathematics educator, known for his work with group theory, complex analysis, non-Euclidean geometry, and on the associations between geometry and grou ...

, Gösta Mittag-Leffler
Magnus Gustaf "Gösta" Mittag-Leffler (16 March 1846 – 7 July 1927) was a Swedish mathematician. His mathematical contributions are connected chiefly with the theory of functions, which today is called complex analysis.
Biography
Mittag-Leff ...

, Andrey Markov, and others. The congress was attended by 208 mathematicians from 16 countries, including 12 from Russia and 7 from the U.S.A. Only four were women: Iginia Massarini, Vera von Schiff, Charlotte Scott, and Charlotte Wedell.
During the 1900 congress in Paris, France, David Hilbert
David Hilbert (; ; 23 January 1862 – 14 February 1943) was a German mathematician, one of the most influential mathematicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hilbert discovered and developed a broad range of fundamental ideas in many a ...

announced his famous list of 23 unsolved mathematical problems, now termed Hilbert's problems
Hilbert's problems are 23 problems in mathematics published by German mathematician David Hilbert in 1900. They were all unsolved at the time, and several proved to be very influential for 20th-century mathematics. Hilbert presented ten of the pro ...

. Moritz Cantor
Moritz Benedikt Cantor (23 August 1829 – 10 April 1920) was a German historian of mathematics.
Biography
Cantor was born at Mannheim. He came from a Sephardi Jewish family that had emigrated to the Netherlands from Portugal, another branch ...

and Vito Volterra
Vito Volterra (, ; 3 May 1860 – 11 October 1940) was an Italian mathematician and physicist, known for his contributions to mathematical biology and integral equations, being one of the founders of functional analysis.
Biography
Born in An ...

gave the two plenary lectures at the start of the congress.
At the 1904 ICM Gyula Kőnig
Gyula Kőnig (16 December 1849 – 8 April 1913) was a mathematician from Hungary. His mathematical publications in German appeared under the name Julius König. His son Dénes Kőnig was a graph theorist.
Biography
Gyula Kőnig was active lit ...

delivered a lecture where he claimed that Cantor's famous continuum hypothesis
In mathematics, the continuum hypothesis (abbreviated CH) is a hypothesis about the possible sizes of infinite sets. It states that
or equivalently, that
In Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory with the axiom of choice (ZFC), this is equivalent to ...

was false. An error in Kőnig's proof was discovered by Ernst Zermelo soon thereafter. Kőnig's announcement at the congress caused considerable uproar, and Klein had to personally explain to the Grand Duke of Baden
The Grand Duchy of Baden (german: Großherzogtum Baden) was a state in the southwest German Empire on the east bank of the Rhine. It existed between 1806 and 1918.
It came into existence in the 12th century as the Margraviate of Baden and subs ...

(who was a financial sponsor of the congress) what could cause such an unrest among mathematicians.
During the 1912 congress in Cambridge
Cambridge ( ) is a university city and the county town in Cambridgeshire, England. It is located on the River Cam approximately north of London. As of the 2021 United Kingdom census, the population of Cambridge was 145,700. Cambridge beca ...

, England, Edmund Landau
Edmund Georg Hermann Landau (14 February 1877 – 19 February 1938) was a German mathematician who worked in the fields of number theory and complex analysis.
Biography
Edmund Landau was born to a Jewish family in Berlin. His father was Leopold ...

listed four basic problems about prime number
A prime number (or a prime) is a natural number greater than 1 that is not a Product (mathematics), product of two smaller natural numbers. A natural number greater than 1 that is not prime is called a composite number. For example, 5 is prime ...

s, now called Landau's problems
At the 1912 International Congress of Mathematicians, Edmund Landau listed four basic problems about prime numbers. These problems were characterised in his speech as "unattackable at the present state of mathematics" and are now known as Landau ...

. The 1924 congress in Toronto was organized by John Charles Fields
John Charles Fields, FRS, FRSC (May 14, 1863 – August 9, 1932) was a Canadian mathematician and the founder of the Fields Medal for outstanding achievement in mathematics.
Career
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, to a leather shop owner, Fiel ...

, initiator of the Fields Medal
The Fields Medal is a prize awarded to two, three, or four mathematicians under 40 years of age at the International Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), a meeting that takes place every four years. The name of the award ...

; it included a roundtrip railway excursion to Vancouver and ferry to Victoria. The first two Fields Medals were awarded at the 1936 ICM in Oslo.
In the aftermath of World War I, at the insistence of the Allied Powers, the 1920 ICM in Strasbourg and the 1924 ICM in Toronto excluded mathematicians from the countries formerly part of the Central Powers
The Central Powers, also known as the Central Empires,german: Mittelmächte; hu, Központi hatalmak; tr, İttifak Devletleri / ; bg, Централни сили, translit=Tsentralni sili was one of the two main coalitions that fought in ...

. This resulted in a still unresolved controversy as to whether to count the Strasbourg and Toronto congresses as true ICMs. At the opening of the 1932 ICM in Zürich, Hermann Weyl
Hermann Klaus Hugo Weyl, (; 9 November 1885 – 8 December 1955) was a German mathematician, theoretical physicist and philosopher. Although much of his working life was spent in Zürich, Switzerland, and then Princeton, New Jersey, he is a ...

said: "We attend here to an extraordinary improbable event. For the number of ''n'', corresponding to the just opened International Congress of Mathematicians, we have the inequality 7 ≤ ''n'' ≤ 9; unfortunately our axiomatic foundations are not sufficient to give a more precise statement”. As a consequence of this controversy, from the 1932 Zürich congress onward, the ICMs are not numbered.G. Curbera.ICM through history.

Newsletter of the European Mathematical Society, no. 63, March 2007, pp. 16-21. Accessed December 23, 2009. For the 1950 ICM in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Laurent Schwartz, one of the Fields Medalists for that year, and

Jacques Hadamard
Jacques Salomon Hadamard (; 8 December 1865 – 17 October 1963) was a French mathematician who made major contributions in number theory, complex analysis, differential geometry and partial differential equations.
Biography
The son of a teac ...

, both of whom were viewed by the U.S. authorities as communist sympathizers, were only able to obtain U.S. visas after the personal intervention of President Harry Truman
Harry S. Truman (May 8, 1884December 26, 1972) was the 33rd president of the United States, serving from 1945 to 1953. A leader of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 34th vice president from January to April 1945 under Franklin ...

.
The first woman to give an ICM plenary lecture, at the 1932 congress in Zürich, was Emmy Noether
Amalie Emmy Noether Emmy is the ''Rufname'', the second of two official given names, intended for daily use. Cf. for example the résumé submitted by Noether to Erlangen University in 1907 (Erlangen University archive, ''Promotionsakt Emmy Noeth ...

. The second ICM plenary talk by a woman was delivered 58 years later, at the 1990 ICM in Kyoto, by Karen Uhlenbeck.Sylvia WiegandReport on the Berlin ICM.

AWM Newsletter, 28(6), November–December 1998, pp. 3-8 The 1998 congress was attended by 3,346 participants. The

American Mathematical Society
The American Mathematical Society (AMS) is an association of professional mathematicians dedicated to the interests of mathematical research and scholarship, and serves the national and international community through its publications, meetings ...

reported that more than 4,500 participants attended the 2006 conference in Madrid, Spain. The King of Spain presided over the 2006 conference opening ceremony. The 2010 Congress took place in Hyderabad, India
Hyderabad ( ; , ) is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Telangana and the ''de jure'' capital of Andhra Pradesh. It occupies on the Deccan Plateau along the banks of the Musi River, in the northern part of Southern India. ...

, on August 19–27, 2010. ThICM 2014

was held in Seoul, South Korea, on August 13–21, 2014. The

2018 Congress

took place in

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro ( , , ; literally 'River of January'), or simply Rio, is the capital of the state of the same name, Brazil's third-most populous state, and the second-most populous city in Brazil, after São Paulo. Listed by the GaWC as a ...

on August 1–9, 2018.
ICMs and the International Mathematical Union

The organizing committees of the early ICMs were formed in large part on an ''ad hoc'' basis and there was no single body continuously overseeing the ICMs. Following the end ofWorld War I
World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, the United States, and the Ottoman Empire, with fight ...

, the Allied Powers established in 1919 in Brussels the International Research Council (IRC). At the IRC's instructions, in 1920 the ''Union Mathematique Internationale'' (UMI) was created. This was the immediate predecessor of the current International Mathematical Union
The International Mathematical Union (IMU) is an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of mathematics across the world. It is a member of the International Science Council (ISC) and supports ...

. Under the IRC's pressure, UMI reassigned the 1920 congress from Stockholm to Strasbourg and insisted on the rule which excluded from the congress mathematicians representing the former Central Powers
The Central Powers, also known as the Central Empires,german: Mittelmächte; hu, Központi hatalmak; tr, İttifak Devletleri / ; bg, Централни сили, translit=Tsentralni sili was one of the two main coalitions that fought in ...

. The exclusion rule, which also applied to the 1924 ICM, turned out to be quite unpopular among mathematicians from the U.S. and Great Britain. The 1924 ICM was originally scheduled to be held in New York, but had to be moved to Toronto after the American Mathematical Society
The American Mathematical Society (AMS) is an association of professional mathematicians dedicated to the interests of mathematical research and scholarship, and serves the national and international community through its publications, meetings ...

withdrew its invitation to host the congress, in protest against the exclusion rule. As a result of the exclusion rule and the protests it generated, the 1920 and the 1924 ICMs were considerably smaller than the previous ones. In the run-up to the 1928 ICM in Bologna, IRC and UMI still insisted on applying the exclusion rule. In the face of the protests against the exclusion rule and the possibility of a boycott of the congress by the American Mathematical Society and the London Mathematical Society
The London Mathematical Society (LMS) is one of the United Kingdom's learned societies for mathematics (the others being the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), the Edinburgh Mathematical ...

, the congress's organizers decided to hold the 1928 ICM under the auspices of the University of Bologna rather than of the UMI. The 1928 congress and all the subsequent congresses have been open for participation by mathematicians of all countries.
The statutes of the UMI expired in 1931 and at the 1932 ICM in Zurich a decision to dissolve the UMI was made, largely in opposition to IRC's pressure on the UMI.
At the 1950 ICM the participants voted to reconstitute the International Mathematical Union (IMU), which was formally established in 1951. Starting with the 1954 congress in Amsterdam, the ICMs are held under the auspices of the IMU.
Soviet participation

TheSoviet Union
The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...

sent 27 participants to the 1928 ICM in Bologna and 10 participants to the 1932 ICM in Zurich.Guillermo Curbera.''Mathematicians of the World, Unite!: The International Congress of Mathematicians: A Human Endeavor''

AK Peters, 2009. ; pp. 95-96 No Soviet mathematicians participated in the 1936 ICM, although a number of invitations were extended to them. At the 1950 ICM there were again no participants from the Soviet Union, although quite a few were invited. Similarly, no representatives of other

Eastern Bloc
The Eastern Bloc, also known as the Communist Bloc and the Soviet Bloc, was the group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America under the influence of the Soviet Union that existed du ...

countries, except for Yugoslavia, participated in the 1950 congress. Andrey Kolmogorov had been appointed to the Fields Medal selection committee for the 1950 congress, but did not participate in the committee's work. However, in a famous episode, a few days before the end of the 1950 ICM, the congress' organizers received a telegram from Sergei Vavilov, President of the USSR Academy of Sciences
The Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union was the highest scientific institution of the Soviet Union from 1925 to 1991, uniting the country's leading scientists, subordinated directly to the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union (until 1946 ...

. The telegram thanked the organizers for inviting Soviet mathematicians but said that they are unable to attend "being very much occupied with their regular work", and wished success to the congress's participants.Guillermo Curbera.''Mathematicians of the World, Unite!: The International Congress of Mathematicians: A Human Endeavor''

AK Peters, 2009. ; pp 149-150. Vavilov's message was seen as a hopeful sign for the future ICMs and the situation improved further after

Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin (born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili; – 5 March 1953) was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet political leader who led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. He held power as General Secreta ...

's death in 1953. The Soviet Union was represented by five mathematicians at the 1954 ICM in Amsterdam, and several other Eastern Bloc countries sent their representatives as well. In 1957 the USSR joined the International Mathematical Union
The International Mathematical Union (IMU) is an international non-governmental organization devoted to international cooperation in the field of mathematics across the world. It is a member of the International Science Council (ISC) and supports ...

and the participation in subsequent ICMs by the Soviet and other Eastern Bloc scientists has been mostly at normal levels.
However, even after 1957, tensions between ICM organizers and the Soviet side persisted. Soviet mathematicians invited to attend the ICMs routinely experienced difficulties with obtaining exit visas from the Soviet Union and were often unable to come. Thus of the 41 invited speakers from the USSR for the 1974 ICM in Vancouver, only 20 actually arrived. Grigory Margulis, who was awarded the Fields Medal at 1978 ICM in Helsinki, was not granted an exit visa and was unable to attend the 1978 congress. Another, related, point of contention was the jurisdiction over Fields Medals for Soviet mathematicians. After 1978 the Soviet Union put forward a demand that the USSR Academy of Sciences approve all Soviet candidates for the Fields Medal
The Fields Medal is a prize awarded to two, three, or four mathematicians under 40 years of age at the International Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), a meeting that takes place every four years. The name of the award ...

, before it was awarded to them.Olli Lehto.Mathematics without borders: a history of the International Mathematical Union.

Springer-Verlag, 1998. ; pp. 205-206 However, the IMU insisted that the decisions regarding invited speakers and Fields medalists be kept under exclusive jurisdiction of the ICM committees appointed for that purpose by the IMU.

List of Congresses

See also

*List of International Congresses of Mathematicians Plenary and Invited Speakers
This is a list of International Congresses of Mathematicians Plenary and Invited Speakers. Being invited to talk at an International Congress of Mathematicians has been called "the equivalent, in this community, of an induction to a hall of fame." ...

References

Further reading

*Guillermo Curbera''Mathematicians of the World, Unite!: The International Congress of Mathematicians: A Human Endeavor''

AK Peters, 2009. *Olli Lehto.

''Mathematics without borders: a history of the International Mathematical Union''

Springer-Verlag, 1998. *Donald J. Albers,

Gerald L. Alexanderson
Gerald Lee Alexanderson (1933–2020) was an American mathematician. He was the Michael & Elizabeth Valeriote Professor of Science at Santa Clara University, and in 1997–1998 was president of the Mathematical Association of America. He was also ...

, Constance Reid
Constance Bowman Reid (January 3, 1918 – October 14, 2010)
was the author of several biographies of mathematicians and popular books about mathematics. She received several awards for mathematical exposition. She was not a mathematician but ...

. ''International Mathematical Congresses: An Illustrated History, 1893-1986'', Springer-Verlag, 1986.
* Yousef Alavi, Peter Hilton and Jean Pedersen"Let's Meet at the Congress"

''

American Mathematical Monthly
''The American Mathematical Monthly'' is a mathematical journal founded by Benjamin Finkel in 1894. It is published ten times each year by Taylor & Francis for the Mathematical Association of America.
The ''American Mathematical Monthly'' is an ...

'', Vol. 93, No. 1 (Jan., 1986), pp. 3–8
External links

*International Mathematical Congress

'' held in connection with the

World's Columbian Exposition
The World's Columbian Exposition (also known as the Chicago World's Fair) was a world's fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. The centerpiece of the Fair, ...

, Chicago
International Mathematical Union: Proceedings 1893-2014

ICM 1998

ICM 2002

ICM 2006

ICM 2014

ICM 2018

ICM 2022

{{Authority control Recurring events established in 1897 Mathematics conferences