The ArtSci Effect Article

This past Spring (2016) Planet ArtSci sat down with the Chair of the Department, Professor Kumar Murty, to record a podcast about mathematics and how to approach mathematics, conquer the fear of it, and appreciate its creative aspects.

Recently the ArtSci Effect wrote an article based on this podcast.

The article can be found here:

James G. Arthur to Receive the 2017 AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement


photo credit: Diana Tyszko

The Department is proud to announce that Professor James Arthur has been awarded the 2017 AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

The official AMS Press Release follows:


Providence, RI—James Grieg Arthur will receive the 2017 AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement “for his fundamental contributions to number theory and harmonic analysis, and in particular for his proof of the Arthur-Selberg trace formula.” Arthur is a University Professor and holds the Ted Mossman Chair in Mathematics at the University of Toronto.

James G. Arthur has made deep and lasting contributions to mathematics. The pinnacle of his work is the Arthur-Selberg trace formula, which elucidates profound connections between properties of numbers on the one hand, and geometric shapes on the other. Building on the pioneering work of Atle Selberg from the 1950s, Arthur created a whole mathematical framework and introduced many major tools. The Arthur-Selberg trace formula is developed in 16 long and difficult research papers that Arthur published between 1974 and 1988. His work on the trace formula, which continues to this day, stands at the center of a highly active research area to which many mathematicians the world over are contributing.

This work fits into a larger effort known as the Langlands Program, which Arthur’s doctoral advisor, Robert P. Langlands, inaugurated in the late 1960s and expanded in the 1970s. The Langlands Program posits a series of deep and far-reaching connections among several parts of mathematics that seem, at first glance, to be unrelated. The program has inspired an enormous amount of mathematical research, in which James G. Arthur has been one of the central figures. His work has had and will continue to have an enormous impact on several branches of mathematics.

Today, at the age of 72, Arthur continues to produce research at the highest level. Because his area of research is often considered to be among the most technically forbidding in mathematics, Arthur has worked hard to make the area more accessible by producing high-quality expository works, which have in turn stimulated more interest and new work. An example is his article “Harmonic Analysis and Group Representations,” which appeared in the January 2000 issue of the Notices of the AMS.

Arthur has a strong commitment to education. This can be seen, for example, in remarks he presented as AMS president, on the occasion of the awarding of the 2005 Abel Prize to mathematician Peter D. Lax. In his remarks, Arthur noted the stimulation such prizes provide to research at the highest levels. The prize “is of enormous benefit for other reasons as well,” he said. “The effective teaching of mathematics is essential for the future well-being of society. Talented students need to be encouraged to pursue the subject. It is equally important that young men and women see the teaching of mathematics as an honourable calling. Public recognition [of Abel Laureates] resonates the world over [and] becomes a source of pride and inspiration for students and teachers alike.” The full text of his remarks appeared in the August 2005 issue of the Notices of the AMS.

Over the course of his career, Arthur has received many honors. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the AMS. He received the Canada Gold Medal in Science and Engineering in 1999, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 2002, and the Wolf Prize in Mathematics in 2015. He has given several addresses at International Congresses of Mathematicians, including a Plenary Lecture at the 2014 Congress and a Plenary Lecture at the first Mathematical Congress of the Americas in 2013.

Arthur’s dedication to cultivating and supporting scholarship and research has led to his appointment to several senior administrative roles internationally. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Mathematics Union (1991-1998) and the Academic Trustee for Mathematics on the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study (1997-2007). He also served as president of the AMS from 2005-2007. One of his lasting legacies as AMS president is the establishment of the AMS Einstein Public Lecture in Mathematics, delivered annually by an outstanding mathematician with a flair for communicating with the general public.

Presented annually, the AMS Steele Prize is one of the highest distinctions in mathematics. The prize will be awarded Thursday, January 5, 2017, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta.

Find out more about AMS prizes and awards.

A photograph of Arthur is available upon request to

Mike Breen and Annette Emerson
Public Awareness Officers
American Mathematical Society
201 Charles Street
Providence, RI 02904

* * * *

Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.

In Memorium: Professor Harriet Botta

Written by Debby Repka (Lecturer at University of Toronto)

DSCN1182Harriet Botta, Professor of Mathematics at York University, died on June 23, 2016. She was the wife of  the late Peter Botta,  Undergraduate Coordinator in the Mathematics Department for many years. Harriet’s high intelligence and gift for mathematics made her unique. There were very few women of her generation who had the courage to pursue this subject; in fact, women were directed away from the sciences. Harriet faced great adversity as she entered the job market. She was told by the then Chair of the Department at the University of Toronto that she shouldn’t apply for a position here because she would be taking a job away from a male who had to support a family.  Despite her disappointment, she persevered and eventually was hired by York University. No department chair today would dare turn away a talented woman scientist, and this is thanks in part to the determination of Harriet and a few other female pioneers to remain academic mathematicians.

Harriet had a special relationship with her husband Peter. Finding a soulmate was not an easy task given the prejudice of most men of her generation against smart women. Peter was progressive beyond his time and wished to share his life with someone who could appreciate his scientific interests. Together they had a rich intellectual life, engaging in lively discussions on a wide range of topics. They were generous in these explorations, opening their home to all those who wanted to join in. Both Peter and Harriet were avid readers, so they had a broad perspective on many issues, challenging friends to think beyond their preconceptions. Often these conversations took place around the dining room table, while Peter served rarefied treats like blini and caviar and, on other occasions, heartier fare like the sausages and flapjacks of the lumberjack breakfasts of his youth.

Harriet deeply appreciated Peter’s achievement of moulding the members of the administrative staff in the Department into a family. With his encouragement, they established harmonious relationships that extended beyond the office, and their long-lasting friendships will endure into the future. Because of the spirit of cooperation and the dedication that Peter fostered, he was able to bring about important innovations in the undergraduate mathematics program. To honour his legacy, Harriet established a fund that, each year, treats the administrative staff to lunch in an elegant restaurant. Her thoughtful gift makes a continuing vital contribution to the Department. She will also be remembered by her many friends among the faculty.

What her friends and colleagues will recall most about Harriet is that she was a true lady. She was raised in an era in which good manners were inculcated in young people, and she never abandoned her high standards. While the society around her became more and more crass, she retained an air of refinement and sophistication. Even towards the end of her life, when her physical suffering was great, she never lost her dignity.  To quote Plutarch:  “The generous mind adds dignity to every act, and nothing misbecomes it.”

ArtSci News Profiles Professor Jacob Tsimerman

Photo Credit: Diana Tyszko (photo from Arts & Science News)

Photo Credit: Diana Tyszko (photo from Arts & Science News)

The Faculty of Arts and Science recently did a profile on Professor Jacob Tsimerman who is currently the Math Department’s youngest faculty member.

Professor Tsimerman was recently awarded the prestigious SASTRA Ramanujan Prize.

His most recent breakthrough was proving the Andre-Oort conjecture, which he compares to “a line of wooden Russian nesting dolls with potentially infinite numbers of dolls within.”

The article discusses Professor Tsimerman’s research and also his love of comic books, Judo, playing guitar and wishing he “had Spider-Man’s powers”.

The full article can be found here:

2016 and Beyond…

The Faculty of Arts and Science recently sat down with the Chairs of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics to discuss the future of their fields and what lies in store for us in 2016 and beyond.  The big answer: Big Data

Departmental Chair, Professor V. Kumar Murty spoke about the future of the department and its focus on “Blurring of the line between pure and applied mathematics” and “Solving centuries-old problems“.  He also spoke on a new course on training in computation techniques at the undergraduate and graduate levels and our first graduate course in computational techniques, instructed by Professor Dror Bar-Natan.

The full article can be found here:

Canada AM Interview

Alex Song, perfect IMO scorer in this year’s competition, and Jacob Tsimerman, faculty member here in the department, were interviewed by Canada AM this morning on their success in this year’s International Mathematics Competition.

You can view the video here

Further details on this story can be found here

Canadian IMO Team Places 9th out of 104

Congratulations go to our Canadian IMO team which last week took 9th place in the contest out of 104 participating countries.  In addition, team member Alex Song received a perfect score on the contest (the only student to do so).

The team was lead by the Department’s own members Lindsey Shorser and Jacob Tsimerman.  

Participant Michael Pang attended the Canada Math Camp in 2012 which was hosted here in the Department and is sponsored by the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS).  The CMS also supports the Canadian IMO team each year.

We are very proud of this year’s team, congratulations to them all!

Further details can be found on the CMS press release.