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Mathematics without Borders: The Centennial of the International Mathematical Union

September 27-28 2021, Palais Universitaire, Strasbourg

The Centennial Conference

We celebrate the Centennial of the International Mathematical Union in Strasbourg, founded in 1920 at the ICM in the same location. The International Mathematical Union (IMU) was founded in 1920 at Strasbourg, marked by the peculiar situation after World War I. Today’s IMU was re-created after World War II. The centennial of the foundation is a moment to reflect on the long and varied history of international cooperation of mathematicians and show that the modern IMU seeks to include mathematicians from all countries.

The opening session were held under the High Patronage of Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic.


  • Annalisa Buffa
  • Jean-Luc Dorier
  • Hélène Esnault
  • Étienne Ghys
  • Subhash Khot
  • Stéphane Mallat
  • Hiraku Nakajima
  • Laure Saint-Raymond
  • Norbert Schappacher
  • Stanislav Smirnov
  • Gang Tian
  • Ulrike Tillmann
  • Marcelo Viana

The International Mathematical Union (IMU)

The IMU is an international scientific organization, whose aim is to support and promote mathematics and mathematicians worldwide. It is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, representing approximately 90 member countries, and is a member of the International Science Council (ISC).

The IMU oversees and convenes the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) every four years. The inaugural ICM was held in Zurich in 1897. At the ICM, the IMU presents some of the most prestigious awards in mathematics – the Fields Medal, the Nevanlinna Prize/Abacus Medal, the Gauss Prize, the Chern Medal, and the Leelavati Award.

The centennial in Strasbourg

The IMU was officially established on 20 September 1920 in Strasbourg, just prior to the ICM in Strasbourg.

ICM 1920 poster. Picture taken from the roof of the Palais Universitaire.

ICM 1920 poster. Picture taken from the roof of the Palais Universitaire.

Recent photo of the Palais Universitaire.

Recent photo of the Palais Universitaire.

photo of the participants, Monday September 27 2021 on the steps of the Palais Universitaire in Strasbourg.

photo of the participants, Monday September 27 2021 on the steps of the Palais Universitaire in Strasbourg.

The conference took place in the same building where the ICM 1920 was held in Strasbourg.


Scientific committee Organizing committee
Carlos Kenig Helge Holden
Nalini Anantharaman Philippe Helluy
Andrei Okounkov Nalini Joshi
Anna Wienhard Bertrand Rémy
Günter M. Ziegler

The Centennial Conference was originally scheduled for September 2020, 100 years after the founding of the IMU. It was rescheduled to September 2021 due to the pandemic.

The entire conference has been recorded:



    Annalisa Buffa


    Jean-Luc Dorier

    Université de Genève

    Hélène Esnault

    Freie Universität Berlin

    Étienne Ghys


    Subhash Khot

    University of Mumbai and University of Princeton

    Stéphane Mallat

    Collège de France

    Hiraku Nakajima

    Université de Tokyo

    Laure Saint-Raymond

    ENS Lyon

    Norbert Schappacher

    Université de Strasbourg

    Stanislav Smirnov

    Université de Genève, St. Petersburg University, Skoltech

    Gang Tian

    Peking University

    Ulrike Tillmann

    University of Oxford

    Marcelo Viana



Monday morning

Monday afternoon

Time Slot Abstract Video Slides
13h00 Lunch
13h45 Group photography On the stairs of the Palais Universitaire main entrance
14h00 Annalisa Buffa Mathematical challenges in scientific computing
14h25 Hélène Esnault Rigid local systems: some arithmetic properties
14h50 Subhash Khot Hardness of Approximation: From the PCP Theorem to the 2-to-2 Games Theorem
15h15 Coffee-break
15h30 Étienne Ghys Linking and the 3-body problem
15h55 Stéphane Mallat The Mathematical Quest of Information Processing
16h20 Coffee-break
17h00 Interview/discussion with IMU Presidents
17h40 Cultural event The Music of Maths: a recital-conference by Moreno Andreatta
20h00 Dinner Maison Kammerzell

Tuesday morning

Time Slot Abstract Video Slides
10h00 Laure Saint-Raymond Dynamics of perfect gases: a statistical approach
10h25 Stanislav Smirnov Of crystals and corals
10h50 Gang Tian Geometrization
11h15 Coffee-break
11h45 Hiraku Nakajima Coulomb branches of 3d supersymmetric gauge theories: construction of new varieties
12h10 Ulrike Tillmann New approaches for moduli spaces
12h35 Marcelo Viana Partially hyperbolic dynamics
13h00 Buffet lunch