COMET • Vol. 7, No. 22 – 7 September 2006


(1) Upcoming Conferences: California Mathematics Council


The California Mathematics Council (CMC) Web site now contains registration and program information about two upcoming conferences.

The CMC-South conference will be held in Palm Springs on November 3-4, 2006. The program schedule (including numerous featured speakers) and registration information may be found at  General conference information may be downloaded from

The CMC-North conference will be held on December 1-3, 2006 at the Asilomar Conference Center near Monterey. Visit for registration and program information. Download general conference information from  Invited speakers for Sunday’s general sessions include Jo Boaler, Delaine Eastin, Megan Franke, Cathy Humphreys, and Steve Leinwand. Visit for more information.

(2) Bill to Reauthorize AB 466 is Sent to the Governor’s Office


[From the California Science Teachers Association Web site: ]

“SB 472 (Alquist)…reauthorizes the AB 466 math and reading teacher professional development program and extends it to include training in math for single-subject credential holders, 1-year emergency credential holders, instructional aides, and paraprofessionals who teach or assist in teaching science. SB 472 has been significantly amended to focus the training on the content standards and framework, and specifies that the training does not rely on the state-adopted instructional materials as the sole resource for teaching the content standards. The governor vetoed an AB 466 reauthorization bill (SB 414) last year; this bill was introduced as urgency legislation.”

The bill is now pending on the Governor’s desk. For bill text and analysis, visit


(3) MSRI’s Math + Music Series Presents “The Art of Fugue” on September 13

Source: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Berkeley, CA

You are warmly invited to attend a special event that launches a series of Mathematics + Music concerts in the new Simons Auditorium at the Mathematical Science Research Institute (MSRI). On Wednesday, Sept. 13, the first of three recitals of the solo music of Bach begins with harpsichordist Davitt Moroney playing the “The Art of Fugue.” The concert will be followed by “A Conversation on Art, Music, and Mathematics.”

Please join the Institute for a reception at 5:30 p.m. The concert starts at 6:00 p.m and the discussion at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, go to:

[“The Mathematical Science Research Institute is the largest research center in the world for pure mathematics.” – ABC news story: ]



(1)  National Mathematics Advisory Panel — Meeting Transcripts

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Both complete and summary transcripts of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel meeting on June 28-29, 2006 in Chapel Hill, NC, are now available for download from  These transcripts include the entire statements of panel members, as well as the statements of numerous speakers during the public comment period.

As stated in last week’s issue of COMET, the third meeting of the Panel will be held on September 13-14 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


(2) Math Genius Declines Top Prize

Source: BBC News – 22 August 2006

Grigory Perelman, the Russian who seems to have solved one of the hardest problems in mathematics, has declined one of the discipline’s top awards.

Dr. Perelman was to have been presented with the prestigious Fields Medal by King Juan Carlos of Spain, at a ceremony in Madrid on Tuesday [August 22].

In 2002, the mathematician claimed to have solved a century-old problem called the Poincare Conjecture. So far, experts working to verify his proof have found no significant flaws.

There had been considerable speculation that Grigory “Grisha” Perelman would decline the award. He has been described as an “unconventional” and “reclusive” genius who spurns self-promotion.

The medals were presented to three other winners at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in Madrid…

Manuel de Leon, chairman of the ICM, said: “The reason Perelman gave me is that he feels isolated from the mathematical community and therefore has no wish to appear as one of its leaders.”

The Fields Medals come with prize money of 15,000 Canadian dollars for each recipient. They are awarded every four years, when the ICM meets. Founded at the behest of Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields, the medal was first presented in 1936.

In 1996, Perelman turned down a prize awarded to him by the European Congress of Mathematicians. Observers suspect he will refuse a $1 million prize offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute in Massachusetts if his proof of the Poincare Conjecture stands up to scrutiny.

The Fields Medals are regarded as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematics. They are awarded to mathematicians under the age of 40 for an outstanding body of work and are decided by an anonymous committee. The age limit is designed to encourage future endeavors.

The winners are Andrei Okounkov of Princeton University; Terence Tao from the University of California, Los Angeles; and Wendelin Werner of the University of Paris-Sud in Orsay, France.

“It’s quite an honor–very different to anything that’s happened to me before. This prize is the highest in mathematics,” Terence Tao told the BBC News website. “Most prizes are specific to a single field, but this recognizes achievement across the whole of mathematics.”

Tao received the award for a diverse body of work that, amongst other things, has shed light on the properties of prime numbers. Despite being the youngest of the winners at 31, he has a variety of mathematical proofs to his name and has published over 80 papers.

Fellow winner Wendelin Werner, whose work straddles the intersection between math and physics, commented: “We are all around 40 years old – so still relatively young. It’s a big honor but also quite a lot of pressure for the future.”

Andrei Okounkov, who works on probability theory, commented: “I suppose we will have to exhibit exemplary behavior from now on, because a lot of people will be watching.”

A spokesperson for the Clay Mathematics Institute said it would put off making a decision on an award for the Poincare Conjecture for two years. The $1 million prize money could be split between Perelman and US mathematician Richard Hamilton who devised the “Ricci flow” equation that forms the basis for the Russian’s solution.

Grigory Perelman was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) in 1966 in what was then the Soviet Union. At age 16, he won the top prize at the International Mathematical Olympiad in Budapest.

Having received his doctorate from St. Petersburg State University, he taught at various U.S. universities during the 1990s before returning home to take up a post at the Steklov Mathematics Institute.

He resigned from the institute suddenly on 1 January, and has reportedly been unemployed since, living at home with his mother.

“He was very polite but he didn’t talk very much,” said Natalya Stepanovna, a former colleague at the Steklov Mathematics Institute in St. Petersburg. On his decision to resign his post, she speculated: “Maybe he wanted to be free to do his research.”

Dr. Perelman gained international recognition in 2002 and 2003 when he published two papers online that purported to solve the Poincare Conjecture.

The riddle had perplexed mathematicians since it was first posited by Frenchman Henri Poincare in 1904.

It is a central question in topology, the study of the geometrical properties of objects that do not change when they are stretched, distorted or shrunk.

The hollow shell of the surface of the Earth is what topologists call a two-dimensional sphere. If one were to encircle it with a lasso of string, it could be pulled tight to a point.

On the surface of a doughnut, however, a lasso passing through the hole in the center cannot be shrunk to a point without cutting through the surface…

The Poincare Conjecture says that a three-dimensional sphere is the only enclosed three-dimensional space with no holes. But proof of the conjecture has so far eluded mathematicians.

Two other math prizes were awarded at the meeting in Madrid. The Nevanlinna Prize is awarded for advances in mathematics made in the field of information technology. It went to Jon Kleinberg, a professor of computer science at Cornell University. His work into link-related web searching has influenced Google.

The newly created Carl Friedrich Gauss prize for applications of mathematics was awarded to the Japanese mathematician Kiyoshi Ito. Ill health meant the 90-year-old could not receive the prize – worth $11,500 – in person. It was picked up by his youngest daughter, Junko. The award honored his achievements in the mathematical modelling of random events.


(3) Tenth Conference on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education

Source: Chris Rasmussen, San Diego State University – (619) 594-7241

As part of its ongoing activities to foster research in mathematics education at the collegiate level and the dissemination of such research, the Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of America on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (SIGMAA on RUME: presents its Tenth Conference on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education in San Diego, California on February 22-25, 2007. The deadline for proposal submission is October 13, 2006.

This conference is a forum for researchers to report results of current research, contemporary theoretical perspectives and research paradigms, and innovative methodologies and analytical approaches as they pertain to the teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematics. Plenary speakers for the conference are Guershon Harel, Dennis Pearl, Rafael Núñez, and David Tall.

Further details are available at the conference Web site:


(4) Call for Papers: “Mathematics Education in a Global Community” Conference in Charlotte, NC

Source: Alan Rogerson, International Coordinator of the Mathematics in Society Project – (Poland)
URL (Society Home Page):
URL (Call for papers):

The Mathematics Education into the 21st Century project, in partnership with the College of Education and the Center for Mathematics, Science & Technology Education at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC), invites you to submit a paper for presentation at the “Mathematics Education in a Global Community” conference, which will be held on September 7-12, 2007 in Charlotte, NC. The chairman of the Local Organizing Committee is UNCC professor Dr. David K. Pugalee.

Since its inception in 1986, the Mathematics Education into the 21st Century Project has received support and funding from many educational bodies and institutions throughout the world. The conferences are renowned for their friendly and productive working atmosphere and are attended by innovative teachers and mathematics educators from all over the world; 25 countries were represented at the last conference.

The major goals of the Conference are (a) to share innovative, unique, and creative solutions for enacting reform in the areas of educational research in teaching and learning, educational technology, curriculum development, mathematics teacher preparation and development, school organization and policy, classroom practices, and issues of equity and ethnomathematics; (b) to document and widely disseminate ideas presented at the conference; and (c) to initiate new and creative solutions to endemic problems.

The Program Committee for the Conference invites mathematics teachers, university faculty members, and national and regional coordinators and administrators from all countries to submit proposals for inclusion in the Conference Program.  We welcome proposals that deal with all aspects of innovation in mathematics, statistics, and computer education, especially those helping to make mathematics more “alive,” more “realistic,” and more “accessible” in the future.  Your proposal could take the form

of a paper or workshop on

• problem solving

• use of technology

• new ways of assessment

• ways of dealing with cultural differences

• overcoming gender and social barriers

• improving the curriculum

• teacher preparation and ongoing development

• policy initiatives

• school organization

• classroom practices

• using statistics in everyday life

• effectively utilizing new paradigms in teaching and learning

• rich learning tasks

• applications of mathematics and modelling in the real world

• computer graphics

If you wish to present a paper or workshop, please send an abstract of less than one page indicating what area of mathematics education your topic falls under and in what specific way your paper/workshop will relate to the theme of the conference. Abstracts should be sent by email only to as soon as possible but no later than September 30, 2006. All Final Papers and Workshop Summaries should be sent by email to arrive as soon as possible and no later than June 30, 2007.

All accepted proposals will be eligible for presentation in the conference program and inclusion in the pre-conference printed proceedings and the post-conference online proceedings. All paper and workshop presenters will be given a minimum of 30 minutes in the conference program to describe their innovative practice(s) and highlight how they have worked in their respective countries and professional settings. Each presentation should be structured as follows: (1) statement of the problem or obstacle that spurred the innovation; (2) description of the solution/innovation; (3) description/evidence of the extent to which the innovation was successful with respect to the targeted problem/obstacle; and (4) possibilities for transfer to different environments.  After individual sharing is completed, there will be open discussion facilitated by a session moderator/chairman.

For more information, please download the full call for proposals at