# Panel Reports On State Of U.S. Mathematics

May 13, 1998A panel commissioned by the National Science Foundation's Division of Mathematical Sciences reports that several adverse trends threaten to undermine the United States' dominant position in world mathematics. The panel also notes that NSF policies significantly affect the strength of U.S. mathematics and hence the health of other sciences.

The "Report of the Senior Assessment Panel for the International Assessment of the U.S. Mathematical Sciences" is NSF's first such international "benchmarking" or evaluation of any scientific field. Chaired by retired Lieutenant General William E. Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, the assessment committee consisted of mathematicians from Europe, Asia and Canada as well as from U.S. national laboratories, industry and elsewhere. NSF grantees were specifically excluded from the panel. The just-published report is part of NSF's response to the Government Performance and Results Act, and contains recommendations for how NSF should support mathematics.

The panel recommends that the U.S. work to retain world leadership in "critical subfields" of mathematics. Federal support for mathematics -- except for that provided by NSF -- is falling rapidly, according to the panel, so NSF bears a special responsibility for the future of mathematics in the United States.

The panel suggests that NSF work to broaden education in undergraduate and graduate mathematics, increase support for graduate and postdoctoral study in mathematics, strengthen interaction between creators and users of mathematics, and generally work to sustain current U.S. world leadership. Other recent studies have addressed the importance of mathematics in K-12 education; the assessment panel chose not to address this issue.

"If we wake up to discover that we have allowed the dominant position of U.S. mathematics to erode, we will pay a heavy price in foregone progress in technology, science and economic productivity," Odom said in the report's preface. It is urgent to give more support to mathematics and to utilize that support more effectively, he added.

The panel emphasizes how other sciences have grown increasingly dependent upon mathematics. One reason is that computational and mathematical simulations provide a new tool to refine scientific theory as well as observation and experiment. Mathematics is also crucial to managing and "mining" the massive amounts of data now typically collected in many scientific experiments.

"The report argues that the economic health and, indeed, the security of the nation has come to depend heavily upon mathematics," said Donald Lewis, director of mathematical sciences at NSF.

The panel calls current U.S. leadership in mathematics "fragile" and heavily dependent on importing foreign talent. Much of that brain-power has come in recent years from the former Soviet Union, a source that has now dried up. On the other hand, "Young Americans do not see careers in the mathematical sciences as attractive," the report says.

-end-

National Science Foundation

## Related Mathematics Articles from Brightsurf:

A new method for boosting the learning of mathematics

How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?

Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows

Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics

Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing

New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics

Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics

Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored

Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Read More: Mathematics News and Mathematics Current Events

How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?

Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows

Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics

Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing

New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics

Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics

Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored

Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Read More: Mathematics News and Mathematics Current Events

Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.