ERCIM is the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics. Over the last nineteen years, an increased emphasis has been placed on information technology (or more precisely, ICT - Information and Communications Technology), mainly because of the funding priorities for research at both national and European levels.
In March 2006 Sir John Kingman, then president of the European Mathematical Society (EMS), approached ERCIM and we gladly responded, leading to a meeting and exchange of letters. Later that year, both boards approved the relationship and a task force was set up during 2007 to propose concrete actions. The task force was led by Jan Karel Lenstra (CWI general director, ERCIM Vice-President and EMS member), along with Ulrich Trottenberg (director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Algorithms and Scientific Computing SCAI) from the ERCIM side, and Jouko Väänänen (EMS treasurer) from the EMS side.
The discussions resulted in several proposed initiatives:
- an issue of ERCIM News with a dedicated special theme on mathematics, with the sub-objective of raising the public profile of mathematics; this issue is the realization of that initiative
- bringing together the fellowship programmes of both organizations to encourage mobility of young researchers in Europe following individual submissions to the 7th Framework Programme
- bringing together our policies on open access to research information, and lobbying the European Commission and more widely, in order to improve open access.
In the background there have also been discussions about EMS members joining appropriate ERCIM Working Groups, as well as joint research proposals and joint approaches to strategic advice to be given to the EC and national governments.
This issue of ERCIM News includes a keynote by ESF president Marja Makarow (arranged by Jouko Väänänen of EMS) and a special theme section full of interesting and relevant articles. It is the public launch of the relationship between ERCIM and the EMS and will doubtless lead to greater cooperation and greater influence for mathematics and ICT both nationally and Europe-wide.