LMS Newsletter article on the Edinburgh Mathematical Society

The following article about the activities of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society written by Colin M Campbell and Edmund F Robertson, appeared in the London Mathematical Society Newsletter in November 2016:

Edinburgh Mathematical Society

Along with the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications, the London Mathematical Society, the Operational Research Society and the Royal Statistical Society, the Edinburgh Mathematical Society (EMS) is a member of the Council for the Mathematical Sciences. The Edinburgh Mathematical Society was founded in 1883 to provide its members, the majority of whom were schoolteachers, with lectures on advanced mathematics. It has evolved over many years and has become established as the principal mathematical society for the university community in Scotland. The aims of the Society are the promotion of the mathematical sciences, traditionally both pure and applied, particularly in Scotland. Its membership comes from all the Scottish universities and other educational institutions as well as from mathematicians in industry and commerce both at home and overseas. It is also very much concerned with the encouragement of Mathematical Sciences PhD students at Scottish universities.

Each year the Edinburgh Mathematical Society has a programme of about eight or nine lectures in Edinburgh and around Scotland. One of these lectures takes the form of a popular lecture and is accessible to school pupils in the their final years at school.

Apart from the General Committee, two other committees provide outreach. The Research Committee supports individuals and conferences. Indeed the authors of this note acknowledge the generous support and encouragement of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society for the Groups St Andrews series of conferences. The Education Committee provides some much-appreciated support for the Schools Enrichment Fund. Among other activities it supports Mathematical Challenge, a problem solving competition for individual pupils in Scottish schools. It also supports activities such as school mathematics clubs and a residential study weekend for Higher/Credit level pupils for three schools from disadvantaged areas of Scotland.

Another important activity of the Society is the Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. The Proceedings date back to 1884. It contains research papers on topics in a broad range of pure and applied mathematics, together with a number of topical book reviews.

Every four years the Whittaker prize, named after Sir Edmund Whittaker formerly Professor of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, is awarded to a leading mathematician with Scottish connections. Whittaker was President of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in 1914-15 and President of the London Mathematical Society in 1928-29. For many years from 1913 to 2003 there was a series of summer colloquia, the St Andrews Colloquia, which were held in St Andrews from 1926 at roughly four-yearly intervals. The St Andrews Fund is now used to support an annual postgraduate meeting at the Burn, Edzell.

The Edinburgh Mathematical Society celebrated its centenary in 1983 and there were also special events in 2008 for one hundred and twenty-five years of the Society.

As well as some joint meetings with the London Mathematical Society, the Edinburgh Mathematical Society held a joint meeting with the Catalan Mathematical Society in 2015. In Scotland the Society has strong links with ICMS, the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, in Edinburgh.

For those interested in the history of the Society two interesting articles are:

M Hartveit, 'Death of a Schoolmaster', European Math. Society Newsletter, Issue 74 (2009), 27-30

R A Rankin, The first hundred years (1883 - 1983), Proc. Edinburgh Math. Soc. (2) 26 (1983), no. 2, 135-150.

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School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland