Rector Magnificus; Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Poland; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
It is my privilege to welcome you all to the 6th ECM. This is one of the largest events in mathematics in the world and the most important scientific activity of the European Mathematical Society.
We express our sincere thanks to the Jagiellonian University for hosting the Congress and for its generous support. We also thank the distinguished guests. With your presence, you are showing a much appreciated interest and support to mathematics. The invitation to Krakow was made by a honourable member of this university, the former Professor and Rector, and also former Vice-President of the European Mathematical Society, Andrzej Pelczar. Let me take this opportunity to honor his memory and to pay tribute to his devoted work for the Society.
Mathematics has a strong tradition of volunteer work. Running mathematical societies, organizing scientific events, publishing journals and books, and organizing activities to attract talented young students are among the very many examples.
Poland, with its longstanding and solid mathematical tradition, and outstanding mathematicians, has been among the most generous in this respect.
Let me mention a very few but illustrative cases:
-In 1929, only ten years after its foundation, the Polish Mathematical Society organized the First Congress of Mathematicians of the Slavic countries.
-Poland was the organizer of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in August 1983. To put this event into better context, let us recall than between December 1981 and July 1983, this country was under martial law, in an attempt to crash political opposition. These were extremely difficult times for most of the citizens of this country.
-Mathematics institutions in Poland, and in particular the Banach Centre, have been instrumental in providing conditions for interaction and collaboration of mathematicians across Europe. This has been extremely valuable, specially for those coming from East European countries in a period where crossing borders was extremely difficult if not impossible.
-The last example is of special significance for the history of the EMS, since it constitutes its public debut.
Our Society was founded on the 28th October 1990, in a residence of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Mandralin (near Warsaw). Bogdan Bojarski, on behalf of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and Andrzej Pelczar, President of the Polish Mathematical Society, were the hosts of this important event.
We are just about to enjoy a great feast of mathematics in Europe. This is made possible thanks to the devoted efforts of very many people and institutions who deserve our gratitude. Let me mention them:
-the members of the Scientific Committee for their excellent work in putting together the program of lectures;
-the members of the three prize committees -the EMS Prize, the Felix Klein Prize and the Otto Neugebauer Prize- for their difficult task in selecting the awardees among a large number of remarkable nominations;
-the Organizing Committee. Thanks to its tremendous and brilliant work, we will all be able to savour an unforgettable event. This is yet another example of generous service to mathematics of the Polish mathematical community;
-the sponsors of the Congress: all the funding agencies, universities from Kraków, Warsaw and other cities, and private and public organisations;
-the sponsors of the Prizes: Foundation Compositio Mathematica, the Institute for Industrial Mathematics in Kaiserslautern and Springer Verlag.
Like many other disciplines, mathematics has reached a degree of extreme specialization. Nevertheless, there remains a need for keeping its unity as a scientific discipline, for resisting fragmentation, and for maintaining and even increasing fluid communication between its domains. A holistic structure will better contribute to genuine progress of scientific knowledge.
As for other theoretical or experimental areas, scientific, social or humanistic, the most significant mathematical advances and breakthroughs involve a complex and sophisticated combination of ingredients, expertise and techniques from different fields.
By keeping our minds wide open, and nurturing the desire of exploring beyond the boundaries of one’s specific research speciality, we will have a better chance to be at the forefront of the scientific advances in our discipline.
Events like the European Congresses of Mathematics provide a very suitable stage and good conditions for these practices. An ECM is a forum for sharing mathematical knowledge and experience with mathematicians interested in different subjects, including those at the crossroads of the discipline. It is also a forum for discussion of many aspects of the profession, a place for networking and for establishing bonds of solidarity, for becoming more aware of the importance of mathematics for the world, for feeling the need of coming closer to society, explaining the usefulness of mathematics to the public.
We are in an ancient and beautiful city of Europe, located in a splendid region and full of historical monuments. Those who enjoy nature and landscape will have the possibility to navigate along the Vistula River, or to hike in the Tatra mountains. If you would prefer peace and time for meditation, you will find shelter in the omnipresent magnificent Krakovian churches. And on the streets, be surprised! You will see that mathematics is the cultural protagonist in the city throughout this week.
On behalf of the European Mathematical Society, I would like to thank all those who helped to bring the 6ecm to fruition, and I wish you all a rewarding and enjoyable Congress.
I declare the 6ECM open.
Thank you very much.