International Congress of Mathematicians 2014


[This article originally appeared in the Asia Pacific Mathematics Newsletter (January 2011, Issue No 1), World Scientific. We are republishing it here with special permission from World Scientific.]



A global festival of mathematics, International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) will be held in August 13–21, 2014 in Seoul, Korea. It is held once every four years under the auspices of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) with over 4,000 mathematicians from all over the world. The Fields Medals — often called “Nobel Prizes in Mathematics” are given to mathematicians not over 40 years old, the Nevanlinna Prize, the Gauss Prize, and the Chern Medal are awarded during the congress’ opening ceremony. Each congress is memorialized by printed proceedings recording academic papers based on invited talks intended to reflect the current state of science.

The decision has been ratified at the 16th IMU General Assembly in Bangalore, India, in August 2010. And it is a glorious pleasure for the people of Korea that the most prestigious academic meeting in mathematics will take place in Seoul. The government, corporations and the mathematical community in Korea have great expectations for the coming congress and stand ready to provide all possible support for a successful congress.

Under the blessing and approval of the Korean Mathematical Society (KMS) Board, nine subcommittees of the Organising Committee (ICM-OC) have been formed to oversee various aspects of the organization of SEOUL ICM 2014.

The ICM-OC is busy working to establish the Seoul ICM Travel Fellowship to invite 1,000 mathematicians from developing countries to Korea, many of whom would not have been able to visit an ICM otherwise, and will now stand to bring the ICM excitement and new knowledge back to their home countries. The potential positive impacts their experiences will have on future generations in their respective countries will be huge and will surely linger for many years to come. Within the IMU, the level of participation and activity of traditionally passive member countries is expected to increase, and a closer collaborative and harmonious mathematics community is likely to ensue.

Satellite Conferences are one of the most important scientific activities surrounding the celebration of ICM. There will be around 60 Satellite Conferences before and after the SEOUL ICM 2014. The ICM-OC expects to draw 60 scientific meetings and workshops on the occasion of SEOUL ICM 2014. About half of them will take place across the host country, and others will take place in neighbouring countries. And as part of the social programs, many cultural events prepared by the ICM-OC will make the visit to Korea more memorable.


Korea’s Efforts to Host ICM 2014 in Seoul

In 2006, three Korean mathematicians — Prof. Jeong Han Kim (Yonsei Univ., Korea and Microsoft Research, USA), Prof. Yong-Geun Oh (Univ. of Wisconsin Madison, USA and KIAS (Korea Institute for Advanced Study), Korea), and Prof. Jun-Muk Hwang (KIAS) — gave invited lectures at the Madrid ICM. In that year, Korea submitted an application to IMU for its IMU group level to be raised to Group IV. In 2007, IMU raised Korea’s group level to Group IV, making Korea the first country whose IMU group level has been raised by two steps at once.

With its newly gained confidence stemming from a series of accomplishments, the KMS has made the hosting of ICM 2014 a prime objective and all members are vigorously applying their energy to ensure that the society will continue to be fully recognised and acknowledged in the international world. Korea, despite a relatively short history in modern mathematical research, has made significant progress in quality and quantity of research in mathematics. In terms of 2008 SCIE publications in mathematics, it was ranked 11th in the world, more than doubling its publications in less than 10 years. Being a late starter, based on its own experience, the KMS understands the challenges met by mathematicians in many IMU member countries where mathematical research, by modern standards, has a relatively short history. Thus SEOUL ICM 2014 will have a positive impact on them in practical and symbolic ways.

At the Hyderabad ICM 2010, two Korean mathematicians — Prof. Jongil Park (Seoul National Univ., Korea) and Prof. Hee Oh (Brown Univ., USA and KIAS, Korea) — gave invited lectures, and the KMS and SEOUL ICM 2014 Organising Committee hosted a Korean Reception (Korean Math Night for SEOUL ICM 2014). Around 230 mathematicians including the IMU Executive Committee members, 2010 Fields medalists Elon Lindenstrauss, Ngô Bao Châu, Stanislav Smirnov, and Cédric Villani, presidents of the mathematics societies around the world, and mathematicians from Korea have come to celebrate Korea’s successful bidding for the next ICM. Starting with the welcome speech by Prof. Dohan Kim (Seoul National Univ., Korea), the president of the KMS, Prof. Hyungju Park (POSTECH, Korea), the Chair of SEOUL ICM 2014 Organising Committee briefly introduced the status of the mathematics in Korea and described the concerted efforts to host ICM in Seoul in 2014.


Host City and Venue

Seoul is the capital of Korea in which the Han River flows through, from east to west, and is surrounded by great mountains, and the city contains both of history and tradition, as well as the latest IT technology, making it a kind of a city which is quite rare anywhere on the globe. All events of the congress will take place at the COEX Convention & Exhibition Center in Seoul.


The logo for SEOUL ICM 2014Emblem

The logo for SEOUL ICM 2014 comprises of two golden spirals that grow and expand at the rate of golden ratio. It represents growth with mathematical order, and symbolizes the dreams and hopes for the late starters. The S-shaped logo is reminiscent of the S in Seoul, and also the “Tae-Geuk” image in the Korean flag that symbolises the harmony of Yin and Yang. The red color is Yang, love and passion. The blue color is Yin, intelligence and dream. The Yin & Yang, however, begin with the same color and shape, representing the oneness of the universe.


SEOUL ICM 2014 Homepage

The ICM-OC has newly opened the homepage of SEOUL ICM 2014, where pre-registration is now available. Those who pre-register at the homepage will receive periodic ICM e-news which will provide important dates and updated information about SEOUL ICM 2014.

For more information, please visit the homepage of SEOUL ICM 2014 (


General Assembly of the International Mathematical Union 2014


The 17th General Assembly (GA) of the IMU will take place in Gyeongju, Korea on August 10–11, 2014 prior to the SEOUL ICM 2014. The GA normally meets once in four years, usually at a place and date close to ICM, and consists of delegates appointed by the Adhering Organisations, together with the members of the Executive Committee and observers. Observers are persons whom the IMU President (with the approval of the Executive Committee) may invite to participate for purposes of consultation upon specific items on the GA agenda. Only delegates have voting rights. At the General Assembly of the IMU there will be a large number of important decisions to be made which will help shape the future of the Union. At every General Assembly, resolutions concerning the development of mathematics and international cooperation are made and published in the IMU Bulletin that appears directly after the General Assembly.


Host City

Gyeongju will be the location of the IMU GA in 2014. The history of Gyeongju dates back to ancient times when the city was the capital of the Silla Dynasty (BC 57–935), the longest period of reign in the history of Korea. Today, more than 1,000 years later, evidence of its rich cultural heritage is still evident in every corner of the city. Since the ancient relics are such an integral part of the area, the whole city has been designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage under the name “Gyeongju Historic Areas”. As such, Gyeongju is often referred to as a “roofless museum”.