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[This post is collectively authored by the ICM structure committee, whom I am currently chairing – T.]
The ICM structure committee is responsible for the preparation of the Scientific Program of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM). It decides the structure of the Scientific Program, in particular,
 the number of plenary lectures,
 the sections and their precise definition,
 the target number of talks in each section,
 other kind of lectures, and
 the arrangement of sections.
(The actual selection of speakers and the local organization of the ICM are handled separately by the Program Committee and Organizing Comittee respectively.)
Our committee can also propose more radical changes to the format of the congress, although certain components of the congress, such as the prize lectures and satellite events, are outside the jurisdiction of this committee. For instance, in 2019 we proposed the addition of two new categories of lectures, “special sectional lectures” and “special plenary lectures”, which are broad and experimental categories of lectures that do not fall under the traditional format of a mathematician presenting their recent advances in a given section, but can instead highlight (for instance) emerging connections between two areas of mathematics, or present a “big picture” talk on a “hot topic” from an expert with the appropriate perspective. These new categories made their debut at the recently concluded virtual ICM, held on July 614, 2022.
Over the next year or so, our committee will conduct our deliberations on proposed changes to the structure of the congress for the next ICM (to be held inperson in Philadelphia in 2026) and beyond. As part of the preparation for these deliberations, we are soliciting feedback from the general mathematics community (on this blog and elsewhere) on the current state of the ICM, and any proposals to improve that state for the subsequent congresses; we had issued a similar call on this blog back in 2019. This time around, of course, the situation is complicated by the extraordinary and exceptional circumstances that led to the 2022 ICM being moved to a virtual platform on short notice, and so it is difficult for many reasons to hold the 2022 virtual ICM as a model for subsequent congresses. On the other hand, the scientific program had already been selected by the 2022 ICM Program Committee prior to the invasion of Ukraine, and feedback on the content of that program will be of great value to our committee.
Among the specific questions (in no particular order) for which we seek comments are the following:
 Are there suggestions to change the format of the ICM that would increase its value to the mathematical community?
 Are there suggestions to change the format of the ICM that would encourage greater participation and interest in attending, particularly with regards to junior researchers and mathematicians from developing countries?
 The special sectional and special plenary lectures were introduced in part to increase the emphasis on the quality of exposition at ICM lectures. Has this in fact resulted in a notable improvement in exposition, and should any alternations be made to the special lecture component of the ICM?
 Is the balance between plenary talks, sectional talks, special plenary and sectional talks, and public talks at an optimal level? There is only a finite amount of space in the calendar, so any increase in the number or length of one of these types of talks will come at the expense of another.
 The ICM is generally perceived to be more important to pure mathematics than to applied mathematics. In what ways can the ICM be made more relevant and attractive to applied mathematicians, or should one not try to do so?
 Are there structural barriers that cause certain areas or styles of mathematics (such as applied or interdisciplinary mathematics) or certain groups of mathematicians to be underrepresented at the ICM? What, if anything, can be done to mitigate these barriers?
 The recently concluded virtual ICM had a sui generis format, in which the core virtual program was supplemented by a number of physical “overlay” satellite events. Are there any positive features of that format which could potentially be usefully adapted to such congresses? For instance, should there be any virtual or hybrid components at the next ICM?
Of course, we do not expect these complex and difficult questions to be resolved within this blog post, and debating these and other issues would likely be a major component of our internal committee discussions. Nevertheless, we would value constructive comments towards the above questions (or on other topics within the scope of our committee) to help inform these subsequent discussions. We therefore welcome and invite such commentary, either as responses to this blog post, or sent privately to one of the members of our committee. We would also be interested in having readers share their personal experiences at past congresses, and how it compares with other major conferences of this type. (But in order to keep the discussion focused and constructive, we request that comments here refrain from discussing topics that are out of the scope of this committee, such as suggesting specific potential speakers for the next congress, which is a task instead for the 2022 ICM Program Committee. Comments that are specific to the recently concluded virtual ICM can be made instead at this blog post.)
The (now virtual) 2022 International Congress of Mathematicians, which will be held on July 614, now has open registration (free of charge).
I’ll also take this opportunity to mention that there are a large number of supporting satellite events for the virtual ICM, which are listed on this web page. I’d like to draw particular attention to the public lecture satellite event, now hosted by the London Mathematical Society, that will feature three speakers:
 Friday 8 July: Geordie Williamson
 Monday 11 July: Elena Giorgi
 Wednesday 13 July: Tadashi Tokieda
(As with many other of the satellite events, these public lectures will require a separate registration from that of the main ICM.)
Just a brief update to the previous post. Gerhard Paseman and I have now set up a web site for the Short Communication Satellite (SCS) for the virtual International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), which will be an experimental independent online satellite event in which short communications on topics relevant to one or two of the sections of the ICM can be submitted, reviewed by peers, and (if appropriate for the SCS event) displayed in a virtual “poster room” during the Congress on July 614 (which, by the way, has recently released its schedule and list of speakers). Our plan is to open the registration for this event on April 5, and start taking submissions on April 20; we are also currently accepting any expressions of interest in helping out with the event, for instance by serving as a reviewer. For more information about the event, please see the overview page, the guidelines page, and the FAQ page of the web site. As viewers will see, the web site is still somewhat under construction, but will be updated as we move closer to the actual Congress.
The comments section of this post would be a suitable place to ask further questions about this event, or give any additional feedback.
UPDATE: for readers who have difficulty accessing the links above, here are backup copies of the overview page and guidelines page.
[As with previous posts regarding ICM satellite events, I am authoring this post as an individual, and not in my capacity as chair of the ICM Structure Committee, which does not have any advisory or supervisory role over ICM satellite events – T.]
One of the traditional features of the International Congress of Mathematicians are the “short communications”, organized by the local organizing committee (as opposed to the International Mathematical Union), which allows participants at the congress to present either a poster or a short talk (typically 15 minutes or so) during the congress. For instance, here are the titles of the short communications and posters from the 2018 ICM, and here are the short communications and posters from the 2014 ICM. While not as high profile as other events of the ICM such as the plenary lectures, sectional lectures, or prize lectures, the short communications and posters can offer a chance for academics from a quite diverse range of institutions worldwide (and even a few independent mathematicians) be able to present their work to a mathematical audience.
There has been some volunteer effort to try to replicate some form of this event for the upcoming virtual ICM this July as a semiofficial “satellite” event of the virtual ICM; it would technically not be part of the core ICM program, but I expect it would be recognized by the IMU as an independently organized satellite. Due to lack of time, funding, and technical expertise, we will not be able to offer any video, audio, or physical hosting for such an event, but we believe that a modest virtual event is possible involving submission of either a PDF “poster” or a PDF “slide deck”, together with other metadata such as author, title, abstract, and external links (e.g., to an externally hosted video presentation of the poster or slides), with some reviewing to ensure a certain minimum level of quality of approved submissions (we are thinking about setting guidelines similar to those required for a submission to the arXiv), and some ability to offer feedback on each submission. (For instance, we are thinking of hosting the event on a MediaWiki, with each communication being given a separate page which can attract discussion and responses to queries from the author(s).) We are also thinking of grouping the poster or slides according to the 20 sections of the 2022 ICM. We would then promote these communications during the virtual ICM, for instance on this blog or on the unofficial ICM Discord. Perhaps some of the other proposed online experiments for virtual events discussed in this previous post could also be implemented experimentally on this satellite event to demonstrate proofofconcept. (If the event turns out to be successful, one could hope that it could serve as a pilot project for a longerterm and better funded platform for virtual short communications to accompany other conferences, but for now we would like to focus just on the virtual ICM satellite event.)
As one of our first actions, we would like to survey the level of interest in such an event, both among potential submitters of posters or slides, and also potential volunteers to help organize the event (in particular we may need some assistance in manually reviewing submissions, though we do plan to enlist peer reviewers by requiring submitters to rate and comment on other submissions in the same section). We have therefore created a form to (very unscientifically) gauge this level in order to decide on the scale of this project (or whether to attempt it at all). All readers of this blog are welcome to offer feedback through that form, or as a comment to this blog.
EDIT (Mar 29): a formal announcement will be made soon, but you can view a draft of the announcement here.
[Note: while I happen to be the chair of the ICM Structure Committee, I am authoring this blog post as an individual, and not as a representative of that committee or of the IMU, as they do not have jurisdiction over satellite conferences. T.]
The International Mathematical Union (IMU) has just released some updates on the status of the 2022 International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), which was discussed in this previous post:
 The General Assembly will take place in person in Helsinki, Finland, on July 34.
 The IMU award ceremony will be held in the same location on July 5.
 The ICM will take place virtually (with free participation) during the hours 9:0018:00 CEST of July 614, with talks either live or prerecorded according to speaker preference.
Due to the limited time and resources available, the core ICM program will be kept to the bare essentials; the lectures will be streamed but without opportunity for questions or other audience feedback. However, the IMU encourages grassroots efforts to supplement the core program with additional satellite activities, both “traditional” and “nontraditional”. Examples of such satellite activities include:
 “Traditional” satellite conferences, held in person at a time near the ICM. Several such satellite events had already been scheduled, and are now satellite events for the virtual ICM:
 34th International Conference on Formal Power Series & Algebraic Combinatorics (July 1822, India)
 Probability and Mathematical Physics (June 28July 5, Finland)
 Geometric Representation Theory (June 27July 2, Japan)
 Effective Methods in Algebraic Geometry (June 2024, Poland)
 Recent Advances in Classical Algebraic Geometry (June 28July 7, Poland)
 Operator Algebras, Dynamics and Groups (July 14, Denmark) [Note: several ICM speakers from Section 8 will present their lecture here.]
 Differential Geometry and its Applications (July 1723, Czech Republic)
 Seminar Sophus Lie (June 1219, Norway)
 27th International Conference on Difference Equations and Applications (July 1822, France)
 Isomonodromic Deformations, Painlevé Equations, and Integrable Systems (June 27Jul 1, USA)
 “Watch parties” or “mirror conferences” hosted by institutions and departments around the world.
 “Sectional overlay conferences”, in which ICM speakers from a specific section (or pair of sections) are invited to present their ICM talk in person in front of a live audience from that section. Some overlay conferences will be held concurrently with the ICM; others are planned to be held shortly beforehand, and the talks then supplied to the ICM as prerecorded talks. Of course, ICM speakers would not be obligated to attend these conferences (and several of these meetings may also schedule additional events not associated to the ICM). Currently we have the following such conferences:
 An ICM sectional workshop in number theory and algebraic geometry, ETH Zürich, July 11th–14th 2022, covering Sections 3 and 4 of the program.
 Geometry and Topology ICM sectional workshop, University of Copenhagen, July 614 2022, covering Sections 5 and 6 of the program.
 Representations and Characters: Revisiting the Works of Harish Chandra and André Weil, National University of Singapore, Jul 115, covering Section 7 of the program.
 Dynamics in Jerusalem, Hebrew University, July 68, covering Section 9 of the program.
 The aforementioned Probability and Mathematical Physics meeting in Finland on June 28July 5 will also overlay Sections 11 and 12 of the program.
 Applied mathematics ICM overlay/satellite meeting, Imperial College London, July 812 2022, covering Sections 15 and 18 of the program.
 Regional satellite events, which would be similar to sectional overlay conferences but focused on a single geographical region rather than a section. Efforts are underway to set up such events in Australia, Boston, Bonn, Japan, and possibly Vietnam.
 Q&A sessions or online chats. A Discord channel has been set up (administered by Martin Hairer, Kevin Buzzard, and myself) to (unofficially) discuss the ICM lectures as they are being given; input is welcome on how best to utilize this channel.
 An online short communications satellite for the virtual ICM.
 The London Mathematical Society has kindly agreed to host the ICM public lectures (as well as the LMS lecture) as a virtual satellite event, by Geordie Williamson, Elena Giorgi, and Tadashi Tokieda.
 Other creative examples of “nontraditional satellite events”. (For instance, one idea would be to create a wikitype web site for the ICM in which speakers could supply introductory videos, slides, and other material for their talks; the IMU unfortunately does not have the logistical and technical capability to run this themselves, but one could imagine some third party being able to set this up instead.)
A more updated list of these events can be found here.
I will also mention the second Azat Miftakov Days, which are unaffiliated with the ICM but held concurrently with the beginning of the congress (and the prize ceremony).
Strictly speaking, satellite events are not officially part of the Congress, and not directly subject to IMU oversight; they also receive no funding or support from the IMU, other than sharing of basic logistical information, and recognition of the satellite conferences on the ICM web site. Thus this (very exceptional and sui generis) congress will differ in format from previous congresses, in that many of the features of the congress that traditionally were managed by the local organizing committee will be outsourced this one time to the broader mathematical community in a highly decentralized fashion.
In order to coordinate the various grassroots efforts to establish such satellite events, Alexei Borodin, Martin Hairer, and myself have set up a satellite coordination group to share information and advice on these events. (It should be noted that while Alexei, Martin and myself serve on either the structure committee or the program committee of the ICM, we are acting here as individuals rather than as official representatives of the IMU.) Anyone who is interested in organizing, hosting, or supporting such an event is welcome to ask to join the group (though I should say that most of the discussion concerns boring logistical issues). Readers are also welcome to discuss broader issues concerning satellites, or the congress as a whole, in the comments to this post. I will also use this space to announce details of satellite events as they become available (most are currently still only in the early stages of planning).
[Note: while I am chair of the ICM Structure Committee, this blog post is not an official request from this committee, as events are still moving too rapidly to proceed at present via normal committee deliberations. We are however discussing these matters and may issue a more formal request in due course. T.]
The International Mathematical Union has just made the following announcement concerning the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) that was previously scheduled to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia in July.
Decision of the Executive Committee of the IMU on the upcoming ICM 2022 and IMU General Assembly
On 26 February 2022, the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) decided that:
1. The International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) 2022 will take place as a fully virtual event, hosted outside Russia but following the original time schedule planned for Saint Petersburg.
2. Participation in the virtual ICM event will be free of charge.
3. The IMU General Assembly (GA) will take place as an inperson event outside Russia.
4. A prize ceremony will be held the day after the IMU GA, at the same venue as the IMU GA, for the awarding of the 2022 IMU prizes.
5. The dates for the ICM and the GA will remain unaltered.
6. We will return with further practical information regarding the two events.
An expanded version of the announcement can be found here. (See also this addendum.)
While I am not on the IMU Executive Committee and thus not privy to their deliberations, I have been in contact with several members of this committee and I support their final decision on these matters.
As we have all experienced during the COVID19 pandemic, virtual conferences can be rather variable in quality, but there certainly are ways to make the experience more positive for both the speakers and participants. In the interest of maximizing the benefits that this meeting can still produce, I would like to invite readers of this blog to share any experiences they have had with very large virtual conferences, and any opinions on what types of virtual events were effective and engaging.
One idea that has been suggested to me has been to have (either unofficial, semiofficial, or official) regional ICM hosting events at various places worldwide where mathematicians could gather in person to view ICM talks that would be streamed online (and perhaps some ICM speakers from that area could give talks in person in such locations). This would be very nonstandard, of course, but could be one way to salvage some of the physical ICM experience, and perhaps also a way to symbolically support the spirit of the Congress. I would be interested to get some feedback on this proposal.
Finally, I would like to request that comments to this post remain focused on the upcoming virtual ICM. Broader political issues are very much worth discussing at present, but there are other venues for such discussion, and as per my usual blog policy any offtopic comments may be subject to deletion.
[This post is collectively authored by the ICM structure committee, whom I am currently chairing – T.]
The International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) is widely considered to be the premier conference for mathematicians. It is held every four years; for instance, the 2018 ICM was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the 2022 ICM is to be held in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The most highprofile event at the ICM is the awarding of the 10 or so prizes of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) such as the Fields Medal, and the lectures by the prize laureates; but there are also approximately twenty plenary lectures from leading experts across all mathematical disciplines, several public lectures of a less technical nature, about 180 more specialised invited lectures divided into about twenty section panels, each corresponding to a mathematical field (or range of fields), as well as various outreach and social activities, exhibits and satellite programs, and meetings of the IMU General Assembly; see for instance the program for the 2018 ICM for a sample schedule. In addition to these official events, the ICM also provides more informal networking opportunities, in particular allowing mathematicians at all stages of career, and from all backgrounds and nationalities, to interact with each other.
For each Congress, a Program Committee (together with subcommittees for each section) is entrusted with the task of selecting who will give the lectures of the ICM (excluding the lectures by prize laureates, which are selected by separate prize committees); they also have decided how to appropriately subdivide the entire field of mathematics into sections. Given the prestigious nature of invitations from the ICM to present a lecture, this has been an important and challenging task, but one for which past Program Committees have managed to fulfill in a largely satisfactory fashion.
Nevertheless, in the last few years there has been substantial discussion regarding ways in which the process for structuring the ICM and inviting lecturers could be further improved, for instance to reflect the fact that the distribution of mathematics across various fields has evolved over time. At the 2018 ICM General Assembly meeting in Rio de Janeiro, a resolution was adopted to create a new Structure Committee to take on some of the responsibilities previously delegated to the Program Committee, focusing specifically on the structure of the scientific program. On the other hand, the Structure Committee is not involved with the format for prize lectures, the selection of prize laureates, or the selection of plenary and sectional lecturers; these tasks are instead the responsibilities of other committees (the local Organizing Committee, the prize committees, and the Program Committee respectively).
The first Structure Committee was constituted on 1 Jan 2019, with the following members:

 Terence Tao [Chair from 15 Feb, 2019]
 Carlos Kenig [IMU President (from 1 Jan 2019), ex officio]
 Nalini Anantharaman
 Alexei Borodin
 Annalisa Buffa
 Hélène Esnault [from 21 Mar, 2019]
 Irene Fonseca
 János Kollár [until 21 Mar, 2019]
 Laci Lovász [Chair until 15 Feb, 2019]
 Terry Lyons
 Stephane Mallat
 Hiraku Nakajima
 Éva Tardos
 Peter Teichner
 Akshay Venkatesh
 Anna Wienhard
As one of our first actions, we on the committee are using this blog post to solicit input from the mathematical community regarding the topics within our remit. Among the specific questions (in no particular order) for which we seek comments are the following:
 Are there suggestions to change the format of the ICM that would increase its value to the mathematical community?
 Are there suggestions to change the format of the ICM that would encourage greater participation and interest in attending, particularly with regards to junior researchers and mathematicians from developing countries?
 What is the correct balance between research and exposition in the lectures? For instance, how strongly should one emphasize the importance of good exposition when selecting plenary and sectional speakers? Should there be “Bourbaki style” expository talks presenting work not necessarily authored by the speaker?
 Is the balance between plenary talks, sectional talks, and public talks at an optimal level? There is only a finite amount of space in the calendar, so any increase in the number or length of one of these types of talks will come at the expense of another.
 The ICM is generally perceived to be more important to pure mathematics than to applied mathematics. In what ways can the ICM be made more relevant and attractive to applied mathematicians, or should one not try to do so?
 Are there structural barriers that cause certain areas or styles of mathematics (such as applied or interdisciplinary mathematics) or certain groups of mathematicians to be underrepresented at the ICM? What, if anything, can be done to mitigate these barriers?
Of course, we do not expect these complex and difficult questions to be resolved within this blog post, and debating these and other issues would likely be a major component of our internal committee discussions. Nevertheless, we would value constructive comments towards the above questions (or on other topics within the scope of our committee) to help inform these subsequent discussions. We therefore welcome and invite such commentary, either as responses to this blog post, or sent privately to one of the members of our committee. We would also be interested in having readers share their personal experiences at past congresses, and how it compares with other major conferences of this type. (But in order to keep the discussion focused and constructive, we request that comments here refrain from discussing topics that are out of the scope of this committee, such as suggesting specific potential speakers for the next congress, which is a task instead for the 2022 ICM Program Committee.)
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