Doug Arnold To Be Next SIAM President

January 6, 2008

Doug Arnold of the University of Minnesota became SIAM president-elect on January 1. This is his second appearance in as many months on the front page of SIAM News.

Talk of the Society
James Crowley

Members of the SIAM Board of Trustees were among the first to learn the outcome of our fall elections. At the group's December 2007 meeting, SIAM president Cleve Moler reported that Douglas Arnold would begin a one-year term as president-elect on January 1, 2008. At the end of the year, he will become the next SIAM president, serving for the two years ending December 31, 2010. The other officers chosen by the membership this fall are David Keyes, re-elected to a two-year term as vice president at large, and Pamela Cook, re-elected to a two-year term as SIAM secretary.

As Moler pointed out, this was an unusual year because of late vacancies created by members of the Council and Board who stepped aside, either for personal reasons or for a move to a higher office. As president-elect, for example, Doug Arnold became a member of the Council and so resigned the at-large seat on the Council he had held since 2004. In such cases, it is the governing body itself that decides how such vacancies are to be filled. The solution this year is to have the next candidates on the ballot fill such vacancies on both the Board and the Council.

The following people were re-elected to three-year terms on the Board of Trustees: John G. Lewis, Jerrold E. Marsden, and Stephen Wright. Petter E. Bjorstad will fill the remaining year of Tony Chan's term; Chan, now working on behalf of a wider community as the National Science Foundation's assistant director for the mathematical and physical sciences, felt that he could not continue to give the SIAM Board the attention it deserves.

As to what the new and continuing Board members will be doing on behalf of the members who elected them, the SIAM Bylaws specify that the Board of Trustees has legal responsibility for the management of SIAM, its funds, investments, and assets: In general, "the Board shall be responsible for the management of SIAM, taking into account the professional and scientific policies and objectives" of the society.

The Council, again as set out in the bylaws, "shall formulate the scientific policies of SIAM, monitor its technical activities, propose new activities, and recommend action to the Board as appropriate."

The membership elected the following people to three-year terms on the SIAM Council: Steven J. Cox, Margot Gerritsen, Mary Pugh, and Mary Silber. Timothy A. Davis will fill the remaining two years of the seat vacated by Doug Arnold.

Together, the SIAM Board and Council provide oversight and direction for SIAM. The day-to-day smooth operation of various aspects of the society is the responsibility of the officers, some of whom are elected (president, vice president at large, secretary) and some of whom are appointed, typically by the president with advice and consent of the Council and Board. Appointed officers, like the vice presidents for programs and for publications, have portfolios of activities that they oversee, in coordination with the appropriate SIAM staff.

It is an honor to be invited to run for office, and, in that spirit, Cleve Moler and Iain Duff, current chair of the Board of Trustees, extend their appreciation to everyone who stood for election, including those who will have the opportunity to serve in office and those who will be asked to serve the SIAM community in other ways.


Speaking of people who have served the community, I would like to take this opportunity to wish Phil Davis the best on his 85th birthday and to thank him, on behalf of his numerous admirers, for his many years of service to the SIAM community. This includes not only the wonderful articles, essays, and book reviews that have graced just about every issue of SIAM News since the mid-1980s, but also his other SIAM endeavors, especially the History of Numerical Analysis project. I'm sure that Phil's enthusiastic fans join me in hoping for many more years of his contributions, beginning with his spirited review of a new biography of Ernst Zermelo.

By way of disclosure, I should note that I first met Phil when I was a graduate student at Brown University. There I enjoyed his wonderful holiday lectures, which covered a wide breadth of subjects related to mathematics, science, and philosophy. It is that wonderful breadth of interests and intellectual curiosity that are also on display in Phil's book reviews and other writings.

Best wishes, Phil!

SIAM News reviewer and essayist Phil Davis, who turned 85 on January 2. On be-half of his many faithful readers, we wish him all the best---including of course the inspiration for a steady stream of new articles!


One of the great disappointments of 2007, occurring in the waning days of the year, was the U.S. science budget. After years of hard work by many people, numerous reports, and support from industrial leaders, the president of the United States had called for a major emphasis on science and engineering in his 2006 State of the Union Address (in which he even mentioned the word "supercomputer"). Congress crafted a bill with bipartisan support that called for the doubling of science budgets, including those of the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy's Office of Science, over a ten-year period. The Administration put forward a budget for 2008 that implemented the first step of this increase, and NSF launched the Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation initiative (see in the December 2007 issue of SIAM News) under the assumption that such an increase would be passed.

In the end, though, Congress cobbled together an omnibus appropriations bill several months after the beginning of fiscal year 2008 (on October 1, 2007) in which funding for science did not grow appreciably. The increase in NSF's funding for research, for example, is nominally 2.5% (and less when adjustments are made for certain transfers)---smaller than inflation by common measures.

The one exception to flat funding appears to be the Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program in DOE's Office of Science. ASCR received a substantial ($67.7 million, or 23.9%) increase, presumably in part the result of the requirement that it create a new institute. In addition to specifying that $19.5 million of ASCR's $354.4 million budget be allocated to high-performance computing hardware, Congress directs DOE to create an "Institute for Advanced Architectures and Algorithms with Centers of Excellence at Sandia National Laboratories and Oak Ridge National Laboratory." The centers will involve industry and universities in a high-performance computing program of unspecified size whose charge is the development of "exoscale computing" capabilities.

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