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Occasionally, there has been a suggestion to start a meta question to collect information that might be of interest to the MO community. This is an attempt to start such a thread.

Is there any news that you think would be of wide interest to the MO community? Please exercise your discretion in any answers, and your judgement on the appropriateness or significance of any event.

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    $\begingroup$ As of now, four of five answers report someone's death -- is this almost the only type of "News of potential interest to the MO community"? I do not doubt that these reports are of interest, in particular the one of today -- but would it perhaps make sense to adjust the question accordingly, as for several months hardly any other news turned up here? $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Jul 15, 2017 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: By all means add news that is more positive, if appropriate. I left the question deliberately open ended. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Jul 16, 2017 at 4:42
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    $\begingroup$ I think reporting any important enough result or new development in mathematics would be fine as well, and at least equally interesting as news about who has died or who has got this-or-that award. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Jul 17, 2017 at 19:46
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    $\begingroup$ It seems that this is mainly an "Obituaries column", rather than general news. I sure hope there will be some good news posted here sometime soon... $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Feb 7, 2018 at 12:57
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    $\begingroup$ @David: Having known about this for a few months now, this is not a surprise for me. I also complained that this is not exactly "MO News". I didn't see anyone congratulate me for winning the Newton International Fellowship (nor I expected that to happen, nor I wish it to have happened). I didn't see anyone congratulate any other user on their fancy grants or new positions. Yes, this is a happy news, as opposed to the whole dead people thing. But it's not something that I find as relevant news to the site. As much as I am happy that Joel will be closer now, which I am, let me assure you that. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    May 20, 2018 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf of course you would know :-) but it makes a change from "so-and-so died :-(..." $\endgroup$ May 22, 2018 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: When I posted this question, I also flagged it myself so that the moderators can assess its suitability and asked them to delete it if they thought fit. By and large, this question and the answers have been uncontroversial -- the answers have been appropriate and respectful, and I see very few downvotes. I'm sure you or others may find something troubling about this -- I don't see it myself. In any case, surely there is room for differing viewpoints on this. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Sep 24, 2018 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf Ah. I had deleted my comment after seeing the comments to the first answer. But on second thought I do stand by it: there is something about having voting arrows next to a series of obituaries that makes me deeply uncomfortable. Votes on a single answer are OK, but when there's several and the default sorting is by votes, it's much more complicated. I see the value in a noticeboard with those announcements, but this format has some awful features. $\endgroup$ Sep 24, 2018 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Lucia: I don't think it should be closed or deleted or anything. And I agree that it has some relevance here. Nevertheless, it still feels a bit odd, in part for the reasons that Emilio mentions. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 24, 2018 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Lucia (and is there a way to ping the mods?) is there a way to set the default answer sorting for this thread to newest first? $\endgroup$
    – none
    Apr 12, 2020 at 9:41
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila what does CW mean on meta? $\endgroup$ Jul 8, 2020 at 1:27
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    $\begingroup$ @FrançoisG.Dorais: More users can edit answers with relevant information. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jul 8, 2020 at 7:24
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: I removed your edit, since I don't see its relevance to the question. I get the sense that you don't like the question or the answers, and that is certainly your prerogative. But it doesn't seem correct to me that the question should be edited with a comment aimed at discouraging answers. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Aug 5, 2020 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Lucia: I didn't mean to discourage answers in any way -- just the contrary. Actually I find the question as such good (I upvoted it already a long time ago). My edit was merely to give a quick overview of what answers are currently there, and to encourage more non-obituary answers. If the edit read like I wanted to discourage answers, then I am sorry, and in this case it was indeed good to revert it. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Aug 5, 2020 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: Thanks for your response! I'd prefer the question as it is. Of course as it is CommunityWiki, everyone has an equal right to edit it, and I don't insist upon my view. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Aug 5, 2020 at 21:20

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Sergey Natanzon (Сергей Миронович Натанзон), 1948-2020, passed away on December 7, 2020, in Moscow, from covid-19 complications. His main research was in Fuchsian groups and Riemann surfaces. More on his work is here.

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I am reliably informed that C.S. Seshadri has passed away in Chennai (July 17, 2020).

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There is an "Open Letter on K-12 Mathematics" signed by some 750 people in the past two days, including various MathOverflow users (and two users with top-ten reputations). The letter focuses on math in public schools, especially in California, and the issues include:

  • Should schools teach algebra before high school?
  • Should schools emphasize or offer rigorous calculus vs less rigorous data science classes in high school?
  • In what grade should students be split into different math classes, vs one class for the whole grade?
  • How can the curriculum help students from diverse backgrounds acquire useful mathematical skills?

For background on the California Mathematics Framework at issue, I found some stories in EdSource and CalMatters helpful. Meanwhile two of the letter-organizers argue their case in a recent guest post on Scott Aaronson's blog.

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    $\begingroup$ This seems to me to be of interest limited to one given country. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Dec 7, 2021 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know, it might be of international interest, if only addressed to an international audience, which I believe is currently not (neither the post, nor the linked page). $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Dec 7, 2021 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ As with everything else on MO, one need not expect that any question or answer would be of interest to everyone. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Dec 7, 2021 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @YCor, I edited in hopes of interesting more people. $\endgroup$
    – Matt F.
    Dec 7, 2021 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @MattF. thanks, I appreciate it. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Dec 7, 2021 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ California gave us right turn on red light. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2021 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: surely not in Australia? $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Dec 7, 2021 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Lucia, correct, we don't even have left turn on red yet. $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2021 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Gerry: I didn't know that Australia had cars. I thought everything is done via Cessna or helicopters. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Dec 7, 2021 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf, I usually just hop on a kangaroo to get around, but we still have to obey the road rules. $\endgroup$ Dec 8, 2021 at 0:16
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Jamie Haddock (Harvey Mudd), David Jekel (UCSD) and Christelle Vincent (U Vermont) are organizing an effort to reimburse early career mathematicians who lost funds to non-reimbursable travel expenses due to the cancellation of the JMM. Fill out this poll to be considered for support; contact davidjekel@gmail.com to contribute time or money.

I am not involved in organizing this effort, but am simply spreading the word. Relevant Twitter thread.

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  • $\begingroup$ JMM is the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) originally scheduled to be held in Seattle, January 5-8. jointmathematicsmeetings.org//jmm $\endgroup$
    – coudy
    Feb 25 at 15:37
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Sadly, we lost Jean-Pierre Demailly, who passed away yesterday (March 17, 2022) in Grenoble. SMF notice (in French)

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for letting us know. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Mar 18 at 17:01
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"Statement on scientific publications by three national Academies (Academie des sciences, Leopoldina, and Royal Society)"

https://www.leopoldina.org/uploads/tx_leopublication/2016_Joint_Statement_on_scientific_publications.pdf

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  • $\begingroup$ This is interesting, but at least for math journals the recommendations seem mostly superfluous. I would guess that most good journals follow similar practices, and the predatory ones are hardly likely to care. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    May 28, 2018 at 3:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Lucia I'm not saying that the statement is ideal or even that I agree with everything written there (though it is a step in the right direction, IMHO). I'm just saying that it is something I'd like to attract people's attention to. $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    May 28, 2018 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ No complaints from me! $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    May 28, 2018 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Lucia: Why do you think that the recommendations seem superfluous for math journals? -- I don't think they are -- also in mathematics there appear to be more and more journals where the peer-review doesn't work as it should (arbitrary-chosen example), and also in mathematics it happens at times that referee's reports lack professionality (personal attacks on authors and the like). -- What I find objectionable in the statement is though the idea of per-article payments to 'fund' open-access -- it simply doesn't seem realistic to me to make (continued) -- $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Jun 3, 2018 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ (cont.): such payments independent from the decision to accept an article. Also, who would pay possible article processing charges for authors based in low-income countries, or for authors who are not affilitated with an institution? -- In my opinion, it would be best to make scientific publications exempt from copyright altogether (just as any type of documents where the copyright protection serves the only purpose to feed a publisher, and the benefit for the author is typically equal to zero). $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Jun 3, 2018 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: The example you linked seems to be from a nonsense journal. As I mentioned in my remark, good journals already follow practices similar to the ones mentioned, and the corrupt (strictly for profit) ones are unlikely to change in any meaningful way. APC's for open access is a complicated issue, but in the journals that I am aware of (or have been involved with), exceptions are always made to anyone who cannot afford them. Also, some countries seem to have negotiated good deals with publishers regarding open access, which may be a different way forward. $\endgroup$
    – Lucia
    Jun 3, 2018 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Stefan Kohl "Also, who would pay possible article processing charges for authors based in low-income countries, or for authors who are not affilitated with an institution?" My stance is much stronger: by sharing my knowledge by publishing I do a service to the community, so if somebody should be paid here at all, it is I. I can forfeit the reward, but that's where I draw the line. Arguments like the above sound to me like if the journal publishers asked that authors kiss their asses and the objection is that some people have back/knee problems, so it is hard for them to bend that low or kneel $\endgroup$
    – fedja
    Jun 3, 2018 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ Worth a plug: freejournals.org fairopenaccess.org $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2018 at 22:38
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If I am reading this chart from the AAAS correctly, on "Mathematical Sciences in the FY 2016 Budget," the funding for math in the U.S. went down by \$3 million dollars (rounded, without adjusting for inflation) from 2015 to 2016. I would be interested to learn the trend in other countries.

      Math Budget

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see where you got that figure from, even given your image. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2017 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ I think a more important question here is what the net value of the funding actually is -- i.e. after deducting reasonable wages for the time people spend on writing applications for these funds (both successful and unsuccessful ones) -- and how that changes over the years. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Mar 18, 2017 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRoberts: $(235+122+97)-(232+129+96) = -3$. LIkely more accurate than using the rounded numbers in each small category. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2017 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl: I take your point, but the estimates you suggest using would be very difficult to calculate---time spent on writing; unsuccessful grants. $\endgroup$ Mar 18, 2017 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ Is there any kind of new figures for more recent times? (I hesitate to say "this year") $\endgroup$ May 21, 2018 at 4:23
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    $\begingroup$ It seems the situation is quite unclear. Here is one article addressing the US 2018 budget: AMS link. $\endgroup$ May 25, 2018 at 1:05
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Robert May, former UK chief scientist and chaos theory pioneer, dies aged 84. Obituary in The Guardian.

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