Posted by: Administrator | 14/01/2016

Save the LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics

At the SGM 5 February 2016, the Motion was defeated 138 to 153 [as recorded from the Scrutineer’s oral statement, needs checking], with 1 abstention. There were about 40 people present; the outcome was determined by proxy votes.

Reflections

Some Floor Statements at the SGM 05 February 2016

On 16 Oct 2015 the Council of the London Mathematical Society (LMS) made decision to close the LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics (JCM), a peer reviewed free for the readers and free for the authors open access online-only journal published by the LMS as a charitable activity; the LMS paid to  the Cambridge University Press (CUP) for hosting the JCM on CUP’s  website. A group of LMS members requisitioned a Special General Meeting (SGM) with the aim of reversing this decision. The SGM will take place at 15:30 on 5 Feb 2016 in the Paget Room at BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP.

Letters in support of the Journal of Computation and Mathematics:

We, Requisitionists of the Special General Meeting, hereby put this motion:

Instruct the Council to continue publication of the LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics as a charitable activity, thus reversing the Council’s decision to close down the Journal.

Supporting Notes

We ask all LMS members to vote for the Motion stated above.

The background of the Motion. We considered the LMS Council decision to close the Journal a mistake serious enough to justify convening a Special General Meeting of the Society in accordance with Statute 19 of the LMS Charter and Statutes. We requisitioned this meeting in a letter to Council of 10 November 2015, with the object of the meeting being to reverse the LMS Council’s decision. It is important to correct the mistake with minimal disruption of publication to the JCM.

The JCM is an online-only open access peer reviewed (and peer reviewed to the highest standards) journal, free for authors and readers. It is one of the rare examples of a mathematical journal that allows and encourages the publication of data files and computer codes supporting the mathematical content of papers.  It is the only LMS publication that fully responds to the new technological demands of mathematics publishing.

By closing the JCM the Council puts all LMS peer-reviewed online publishing on a 100% commercial basis.

The already existing commercial online journal, the Transactions of the LMS, charges an authors’ fee of £800 to £1,600 per paper (+ 20% VAT, if payment comes from the UK or EU). In effect, this is a £960 to £1,920 charge for access to peer review made by fellow mathematicians for free as a charitable contribution and service to the community.

The charitable nature of the JCM. As a charity, the LMS enjoys significant privileges including tax breaks. To justify its charitable status, the LMS must spend money on its charitable objects.

Being free both for authors and for readers, the JCM is a shining example of a truly charitable activity which fully complies with the LMS Royal Charter, which lists among the LMS charitable objects:

(iii) To print, publish and distribute gratuitously or otherwise the Proceedings and Journals of the Society containing such communications as in the opinion of the Council are worthy of publication;

(vi) To make grants of money or donations in aid of mathematical investigations or the publication of mathematical works or other matters or things for the purpose of promoting invention and research in mathematical science, or its applications, or in subjects connected therewith;

The quality and standing of the JCM. The JCM plays a unique role as the leading journal in a specific and increasingly important cross section of advanced theoretical mathematics: symbolic and/or absolute precision arithmetic computations — frequently at the limits of the capacity of modern computers — in algebra, representation theory, combinatorics, number theory, algebraic geometry, etc. The real strength of the JCM is hard core computation at the boundary of what is possible. Moreover, the publications in the JCM help (and aim) to push this boundary farther and farther away, and make possible theoretical results that nobody believed were achievable just a few years ago.

This aspect of the Journal’s work  will become only more important in the future.

The high reputation of the JCM is witnessed by letters of support from our colleagues in the UK and around the world.

The blogs

will run a comprehensive discussion of the role of the JCM and its service to the British and international mathematical communities. The medium of blogs allows our colleagues from outside  the LMS and from overseas to take part in this discussion. Please check the blogs — it is likely that new contributions will appear right up to the last minutes before the SGM.

The innovative ground-breaking  nature of computational pure mathematics represented in the JCM makes it unattractive to commercial publishers. This is why it has been, and remains, the  LMS’ duty to step in and run the Journal as a charitable activity.

The alleged financial issues. Members should not be confused by the alleged huge costs of the JCM which have already been mentioned in some discussions and which might be reported as potential savings, in the run-up to Special General Meeting. The actual costs of publication of the JCM are modest and not long ago were comparable, per annum, with the cost of a small grant and even now, after changing the web hosting provider, are comparable with the cost of a LMS workshop grant. The data from official LMS Annual Reports filed with the Charity Commission in 2005 — 2015 show the modest scale of the JCM costs:

£ 467    in 2005
£ 741      in 2006
£ 367      in 2007 (11 months)
£ 341      in 2008
——       in 2009 (no figure given)
£ 4,294      in 2010
£ 4,894      in 2011
£ 5,930      in 2012
£ 6,180      in 2013
£ 7,224      in 2014
£ 15,275      in 2015

The growth from 2010 most likely can be explained by the change of a web hosting provider which happened around that time; unfortunately it appears that no attempts have been made on the part of Council to find cheaper providers of Internet hosting.

The jump in costs in 2013–15 is likely to be the result of Council’s instructions to Editors of the JCM to increase the number of published papers and pages of at least the same quality as those recently published. Every additional paper resulted in additional per paper and per page charges being paid to the Cambridge University Press.

Still, the costs of the JCM are modest and it is instructive to compare them with the total LMS income figures:

£ 2,288,142    in 2010
£ 2,484,898    in 2011
£ 2,220,556    in 2012
£ 2,399,378    in 2013
£ 2,613,903    in 2014
£ 2,908,113    in 2015

With income on that scale, we perhaps need to improve efficiency elsewhere rather than close one of the most cost-effective and technologically advanced channels of worldwide dissemination of modern mathematical knowledge.

 

Requsitionists of the Special General Meeting:

Professor Bryan Birch FRS
Professor Alexandre Borovik
Professor Ronald Brown
Professor Peter Cameron
Professor David Epstein FRS

Professor Victor Flynn
Dr Tony Gardiner
Dr Andrew Glass
Professor Timothy Gowers FRS
Professor Derek Holt

Professor Jon Keating FRS
Professor Andrey Lazarev
Professor Josef Lauri
Professor Charles Leedham-Green
Professor Angus Macintyre FRS

Dr Kay Magaard
Dr Christopher Mulvey
Professor Graham Niblo
Professor Jeffrey Paris
Professor Beatrice Pelloni

Professor Norbert Peyerimhoff
Dr Colva Roney-Dougal
Professor Peter Rowley
Professor Tony Scholl
Professor Sergey Shpectorov

Professor Leonard Soicher
Dr Alina Vdovina
Dr Theodore Voronov
Professor John Wilson
Professor Robert Wilson

12 January 2016

The meeting was amicable, and the final voting quite close. Our Motion
failed, so Council certainly has no legal obligation to implement
charitable arrangements to save the journal. However, I continue to hope
that Council will have learned something from the discussion, and may,
now that any tensions have dissipated, reflect on the hurt caused by an
almost inexplicable rush to judgement.

The fundamental issue is quality, in an intellectual sense, of the
journal. The word “quality” had been bandied about in the paper by the
Publications Secretary and in the paper of ex-President Lyons. Despite
this, repeated attempts at the meeting to get information on the quality
assessment proved fruitless. We were not given any evidence that any
experts had any reservations about the quality of JCM, in the sense just
explained. All the evidence points to Publications using only a notion
of quality based on download figures. This is shocking, and undermines
any argument for closing the journal so abruptly. Vague remarks about
concerns, or internal problems, most likely from quite a few years back,
do not affect the present high quality of the journal.

We have learned at the Meeting, too, that part of the case made by
Publications, about targets not being met, was presented in a misleading
way to Council. Two editors testified about this, and no refutation was
offered. Thus two of the main reasons for eliminating the journal are
suspect, one being simply nonsense (the issue of quality) and the other
(which to my mind involved improper pressure on Editors to meet targets
having nothing to do with quality, like number of pages) involving
exaggeration.

To the bitter end all that mattered was commercial viability. I tried to
argue in my opening statement that Publications ought long ago to have
become fully aware of the intellectual force of JCM, and acted
charitably towards it. We did not need extra journal income. We do need
respect for high originality and rather hidden service to the community.
We would do well to reflect on the apt image produced by Charles
Leedham-Green (see his piece on this blog). Can we not rely on the LMS
to provide refuge for researchers from the impact-driven pressures of
modern academic life?

In a related vein, we had some one-sided discussion on Rebranding. Dr
Hezlett was quite unable to provide any evidence (in response to a very
penetrating question) as to known advantages of Rebranding. In this
particular case there seem to be serious financial disadvantages to
Rebranding (or starting a completely new journal “supporting the areas
of mathematics and computation”, disregarding the fact that we already
have a high quality journal meeting the very specific needs of exact
computation in number theory and algebra), and no reason to expect
marketing success. The policy seems to me incoherent. It would be so
much more elegant to build on our strengths and run JCM for now, as it
is, as a charitable activity. Why do such violence to a journal which
brings us credit (intellectual of course)?

We had compelling statements, wise and collegial, from Professors Coates
and Curtis, admired researchers from number theory and group theory (and
people who have given so much to the LMS) about the quality of JCM,
the importance of its output, and the wisdom of putting aside purely
commercial criteria in considering the future of JCM.

Rob Wilson argued compellingly that JCM is the only natural place to
publish much of the specialized output that links deep computation to
some of the deepest structural problems in pure mathematics. Charles
Leedham-Green argued compellingly that the kind of algorithmic work
published in JCM goes right into the efforts of the next generation,
rapidly and not always explicitly acknowledged. The impact is not to be
measured by the simplistic ideology taking hold of academic life.

Like many colleagues I was proud to witness the passionate defence of
science, by a number of people whom I deeply admire. I mean no
disrespect to those who disagreed with us if I say that I left without a
sense of hearing any constructive arguments from them, except for an
important remark by John Hunton that Publications Committee is not
sufficiently in touch with Council (I may not be giving John’s exact
words, but I deeply appreciated the frankness of this remark, and it
would be reassuring to know that there will be closer links between
Council and Publications).

One knows (from a letter to someone submitting to JCM a few days after
Council 16 October 2015, but before we, the Membership, knew anything)
that Council were first asked to vote on making JCM a Gold Access
Journal (which seems very strange given its commercial record), and this
they voted down. They were then invited to vote on closure, and they
voted for closure, making them the first LMS Council to close a journal.

For Council to make the decision on the basis of very weak arguments
from Publications Committee, is a great shame. The Society’s reputation
has suffered, but , as I said in my opening statement at the Meeting, it
is very easy to put things right. We obviously have the money, and we
just need a bit more commitment to intellectual value supported by the
opinion of experts from all over the world.

The following letter was sent to an author of a paper submitted to the JCM; this has been done on 27 October 2015, a week after Council’s decision to close the Journal.

 

From: JCM [JCM@lms.ac.uk]
Sent: 27 October 2015 11:48
To: X Y ZZZZZZ
Subject: LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics

Dear XXXXXXXXX YYYYYY ZZZZZZ,

I am writing with news that may have a bearing on your consideration of publishing your article in the LMS JCM, ‘[Title of the paper]’, by YYYYYY ZZZZZZ.

As you may be aware, the LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics has been running for some years as a ‘free’ journal and the costs of publishing the journal have been borne by the London Mathematical Society. From the outset, it was intended that the journal should progress to at least break even and, for a few years, it ran as a subscription journal but did not manage to acquire sufficient support from libraries to cover the costs of subscription management. Over the last few years, we have been considering how to best get the journal to a satisfactory and successful state and, last Friday, the LMS Council (whose members are the Officers and Trustees of the London Mathematical Society) considered the LMS Publications Committee’s proposal for the JCM, which included moving the journal to a gold open access model.

However, the LMS Council did not accept the proposal, and decided instead that the journal should be closed, one reason being that it felt the move to a gold open access model would likely lead to a slow decline that could be more damaging to its reputation. Council felt that the general area of computation and mathematics was one that the Society should, in the long run, continue to be present in, but thought that there were probably better ways to use its resources in this direction. Of course the Society will continue to make the papers already published available in perpetuity.

While we are happy to continue the process of publication of your paper, we are giving all authors yet to be published the opportunity to withdraw their papers. We will continue to publish any papers still in the pipeline providing you are willing to continue.

If you wish to withdraw your paper, please let us know and we will do this on your behalf. If you do not wish to withdraw your paper, no further action is necessary on your part.

Best wishes,

[Signature]
[FirstName LastName]

De Morgan House, 57–58 Russell Square, London WC1B 4HS, UK
www.lms.ac.uk<http://www.lms.ac.uk>
Tel.: +44 20 7927 XXXX
Fax:  +44 20 7323 YYYY
Charity no.: 252660

I am Derek Holt from Warwick, the current Editor-in-Chief of the LMS JCM. I
would like to make a number of points, but I will start by clarifying my own
position as Editor-in-Chief. In the event of the JCM being revived, I would
be willing to carry on in this position in the short term, but ideally I
would prefer to step down and be replaced within a year or two. But if the
LMS Council wanted to relaunch the journal with a new editorial team, then
I would be perfectly happy with that decision.

I would like to take issue with one of the points made by the Publications
Secretary in his document opposing the motion. He states there that in
2012 the JCM editors were given some targets for the next few years, and
in early 2015 “it was clear that the targets had not been met, and it was a
moot point as to how much progress had been made towards them”.

There were two specific targets. The first was to increase the volume of
publications by a precisely specified amount without a decrease in quality.
In fact we achieved the prescribed increase in 2013 and exceeded it in 2014 and
2015. (I will come back to the question of quality in a moment.) For example,
in 2015, the target was 30 papers totalling 577 pages, and the actual amount
published was 33 papers totalling 773 pages.

The second target was to publish two sets of conference proceedings within
three years. In the even we only published one, but we will be publishing
another this year (which sadly looks like being the final activity of the
JCM), which will make two in four years. So I would descibe it as a borderline
failure to achieve the targets rather than a clear failure.

On the question of quality, I have been Editor-in-Chief since 2008, and I have
personally approved every paper that has been published since then. I can
honestly say that our criteria for acceptance have not change during this
period, and neither has the overall quality of the published papers. We were
not asked to improve the quality, but to maintain it, which we have done. I
have the impression that the goal posts have been moved in assessing the
extent to which we have achieved the targets set.

The JSC has also been criticised for lack of diversity in the range of
subjects covered. It is true that, in the past, the best papers published have
been in a few specific areas, particularly Computational Number Theory and
Group Theory, and I would not dispute that the strongest papers continue to be
in these areas. A new editor and numerous new editorial advisers have been
appointed in the past few years with a view to addressing this situation.
After looking again in detail at the papers published by the JSC in 2015, I
see clear evidence of progress in this area, and a generally broad range of
topics covered including, for example, numerical solution of differential
equations. But it takes time to build up a good reputation in new areas,
and it seems a great pity that we have been so abruptly curtailed just as we
were beginning to make some headway.

Posted by: Administrator | 06/02/2016

Professor Charles Leedham-Green

I address my remarks to the Chair, who is impartial, copied to the Publications
Secretary, who, like myself, is not.

Academia has become infected by metrics. No doubt these metrics have their uses,
and we all know their dangers.

I suspect that topology (the subject, not the journal) suffers from metrics. Topology
is a profound, difficult subject; and profound, difficult papers may attract fewer readers.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is more widely read than War and Peace.
Computational mathematics suffers from metrics, in that the use of our work by
computers is unrecorded.

Leonard Soicher and I published a paper in the JCM in its early years. I am rather
pleased with the paper. If the papers published by JCM were ordered by perceived merit
it might not come far below the median point. I don’t suppose it has helped the Journal’s
metrics. But whenever anyone calculates in an infinite nilpotent group, or in a p-group
with p > 7, they will probably use our algorithm. To repeat, a typical JCM paper.

But there is a more serious point.

Computation is increasingly the glue that binds mathematics together.

Take a topologist; or rather a CW complex. You can write down a presentation for its fundamental group. This is likely to be as informative to the naked eye as a National
Insurance Number; but show it to the machine, and it comes to life. Thus a very clever
algorithm killed off Dunwoody’s putative counter-examples to the Poincar´ e conjecture,
scoring 0 on metrics for obvious reasons.

Some serious work on absolute Galois groups is led by machine computation.

Topologists, number theorists, physicists, chemists can learn the group theory relevant
to their research by using computational packages. I could not have carried out my own
work on 2 F 4 without the support provided by Magma.

The Publications Secretary illuminates some of his work with splendid computer generated diagrams. Computer graphics are, in many cases, driven by topology, if modern
dynamics is a branch of topology.

We all use computation more than we think, and computation uses more original and
profound ideas than we realise.

Our motion instructs Council to change its decision. But what we want is not so much a change of decision as a change of mind; a change of heart. The decision to close the Journal was made in understandable ignorance of the esteem with which the Journal
is held by those best able to judge it.
Council should be very proud of the JCM, and do all in its power to foster and
encourage it, and not treat it like a dubious junior lecturer on probation.
I support the motion

Posted by: Administrator | 06/02/2016

Professor Peter Cameron

Academic publishing is in a period of rapid change. Part of this is driven by
pressure from the funding bodies. The research councils mandated open access,
preferring the gold model; the LMS responded by starting a new journal, the
Transactions. Then the funding council undermined this somewhat by announcing
that, in order to count for the next REF, a post-acceptance version of the
paper must be freely available within three months of the acceptance date.
Why would anyone pay a 3- or 4-figure sum for gold open access when they have
to put a free copy up anyway? The LMS JCM should qualify under either regime.

Another recent directive from the research councils on “open data” requires
that data supporting the conclusions of a paper must be freely available,
accompanied by “high-quality metadata”. This directive is particularly
relevant to people at the interface of maths and computing, who might have
large programs or output from them to justify a mathematical result. The
JCM is one of the very few journals which actively support this at present.

My colleague Alexander Konovalov surveyed the bibliography of papers which
cite the computer algebra system GAP in their references. There are 331
journals in the list; the JCM stands at number 9 on this list. Right there is
the community who will suffer the most damage from the closure of the JCM.

Posted by: Administrator | 06/02/2016

Opening statement by Professor Angus Macintyre FRS

Opening statement by Professor Angus Macintyre FRS

In 2015, the LMS celebrated its 150th Anniversary. It will be sad indeed if 2015 is remembered in the Society’s history as the year in which the LMS first closed a journal, the Journal of Computation and Mathematics (henceforward JCM). The abrupt decision to close JCM has caused consternation in the international mathematical community ( as evidenced by the contributions to the “Future of the LMS” blog), and has resulted in glowing tributes to the quality of JCM in open letters to the President and Council. Among the testimonials are three from Cheryl Praeger, John Cannon and Melvin Leok. The first, who said she is appalled, is an Honorary Member of the Society, a very distinguished group theorist, and someone who has occupied positions of high responsibility at world level in IMU. The second, a major authority in the field, points out that the abrupt closure has probably deprived JCM of a contribution of great interest, likely to provoke much discussion, concerning new methods for confirming the famous calculations underlying the Classification of Finite Simple Groups. Leok’s eloquent letter brings out, inter alia, the very important point that JCM is a major resource for mathematics in the developing world.

I have come here today simply as an LMS member committed to collegiality , transparency and respect for the diversity of our community. That I have been President, from 2009 to 2011, is relevant only in that I have a lot of experience of Council and overcrowded agendas, and saw no inclination during my Presidency to move towards closure of JCM, nor have I ever detected any reasoned doubts about the mathematical quality of JCM.

I am going to concentrate on quality, in the sense of intellectual quality quite independent of marketing potential, and charitable objectives. In my judgement, JCM has already for some years achieved distinction, particularly in connection with number theory and group theory and such great works of intellect as Classification of Finite Simple Groups and Langlands Programme. Any negative judgements about the quality of the journal seem to come from considerations of commercial viability and the numerology of impact. The high reputation of JCM is largely based on its emphasis on exact computations near the limits of the possible, thereby illuminating the theory of some of the most fundamental structures of mathematics. At the beginning of JCM it was quite reasonable to aim for conventional commercial success, but I feel that the Society has pursued this far beyond the point of diminishing returns. JCM was, and is, a pioneering journal, by no means conventional, deeply admired in the world that should mean most to us, that of ideas and new methods for advancing understanding. In retrospect, it is surprising that management did not, much earlier, consider making JCM a special case, driven by charitable objectives, and funded modestly towards that end by our still very considerable profits from more conventional journals. Instead we have proposals, probably very costly in terms of time and money, to “rebrand” or replace the journal by a “better” one. Both options are based on a peculiar judgement of quality , and the speculation in John Hunton’s paper that Council must have had doubts about quality for a long time , since closure has not been resisted, is nowhere justified, and is certainly false about my tenure of the Presidency It has been clear for years that JCM has achieved a very high reputation, in a crucial area, and in addition provides rare opportunities for the financially constrained mathematicians working in the developing world. The decision to close the journal (and the very abrupt enactment of this, even before the Membership knew anything) has badly damaged the reputation of LMS, a sad end to 2015.

Even granting that much money (how much is hard to judge) has gone into “supporting” JCM, I claim that the principal costs were incurred in the probably unrealistic pursuit of commercial viability, and have no implications about present quality. Moreover the undoubted pressure to diversify was driven largely by commercial objectives and has achieved little.

We have clear evidence that this intellectually distinguished journal can be run for very little as a free journal, and in a spirit of pioneering intellectual freedom. By now a number of LMS members have expertise on such matters, which are not a traditional concern of Publications Committee.

I personally believe that closure of a journal is a dire event in the long history of our society, a scholarly charity whose prosperity is ultimately based on the unflagging, and unpaid, service of many members (and foreign colleagues) over many generations. The LMS had enhanced its reputation as a scientific society by its boldness in launching this very distinctive modern journal, which is thriving intellectually.

No one is denying that Council, and only Council, has the right to make LMS decisions. This is a heavy responsibility, especially when one has to consider, for the first time in the Society’s history, closing a journal. It would have been wise to have Membership’s opinions beforehand. This would certainly have compensated for the total absence of any authoritative negative opinions on quality in the case put to Council for closure. In fact, I take it as a basic point of principle (and courtesy) that no journal should be closed without the membership ever being informed that such a possibility existed. To do otherwise shows an alarming lack of sensitivity and transparency. Why the rush?

I close with a quotation from Tim Gowers:

But some sort of line has surely been crossed when a mathematical society closes down a journal that is successful mathematically on the grounds that it is insufficiently successful economically.

The situation is easily put right, and this is the point of our Motion:

MOTION

Instruct the Council to continue publication of the LMS JCM as a charitable activity, thus reversing the Council’s decision to close down the journal.

Posted by: Peter Cameron | 04/02/2016

Alexander Konovalov: 20 journals with most GAP citations

20 journals with most GAP citations

Author: Alexander Konovalov. Re-posted from https://blogs.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/alexk/ by Peter J. Cameron.

The GAP Bibliography currently contains 2217 records. Among others, it contains 1961 journal publication (the rest are books, PhD theses, preprints, etc.). These journal publications represent 331 journal, but almost a half of them (1042 papers) are published in the following 20 journals:

  1. J. Algebra : 258
  2. Comm. Algebra: 137
  3. J. Symbolic Comput.: 88
  4. (*) Discrete Math.: 66
  5. (*) Experiment. Math.: 42
  6. J. Group Theory: 41
  7. Internat. J. Algebra Comput.: 41
  8. (*) European J. Combin.: 38
  9. (*?) LMS J. Comput. Math.: 37
  10. (*) J. Pure Appl. Algebra: 37
  11. J. Algebra Appl.: 36
  12. (*) Des. Codes Cryptogr.: 35
  13. Arch. Math. (Basel): 33
  14. Math. Comp.: 26
  15. (*) J. Combin. Theory Ser. A: 25
  16. Electron. J. Combin.: 25
  17. Israel J. Math.: 22
  18. J. Combin. Des.: 20
  19. J. Algebraic Combin.: 18
  20. Adv. Math.: 17

It’s interesting, however, which of these journals suggest publishing code together with the paper? I have marked with (*) journals where the guidelines for authors (click on the journal title to see them) at least mention an opportunity to submit supplementary material, though the wording used may be quite different. For example, Elsevier’s Discrete Math., European Journal of Combinatorics, J. Pure Appl. Algebra, J. Combin. Theory (Ser.A) and Advances in Mathematics all say “Supplementary files offer the author additional possibilities to publish supporting applications, high-resolution images, background datasets, sound clips and more”, so the code could go under “more”. Experimental Mathematics is more explicit in suggesting that “detailed code can be submitted as a computer supplement”.

There is no information available at the moment for the LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics, which is currently closed for new submissions, awaiting for the LMS Special General Meeting tomorrow, but there were some in the past. You may see an example how they worked in the paper by Meinolf Geck linked from “In which journals should I publish my software” post by Neil Chue Hong of the Software Sustainability Institute.

Finally, Designs, Codes and Cryptography accepts “electronic multimedia files (animations, movies, audio, etc.) and other supplementary files to be published online along with an article or a book chapter”. In particular, it says that “specialized format such as .pdb (chemical), .wrl (VRML), .nb (Mathematica notebook), and .tex can also be supplied”.

I haven’t discovered suggestions to submit the code in other journals from the list above. I am happy to be corrected in case I’ve overlooked them, but in this case other authors could probably overlook them too…

President,

I am writing, as a former Council and General Secretary, and more recently as a Member-at-Large of Council, and as one of those requesting the Special General Meeting to be held on 5th February 2016, to express my concern about the form and content of the Forms of Proxy circulated to members of the Society at various points by the Executive Secretary.

In the words of your letter to Members on 19th January 2016, a Special General Meeting is an unusual and very important matter for the Society. It is therefore one deserving organisation in a professional and impartial manner respecting the traditions of the Society resolving differences of opinion in an appropriate way. In particular, one would expect that care would have been taken to ensure that the documents circulated had been subject to careful consideration and competent advice. It seems, unfortunately, that, in the present case, the proposed Form of Proxy had not been subject to any such scrutiny or to the approval of Council.

The appointment of a proxy for a Member entitled to vote at a meeting allows the proxy to act at the meeting in every way as though the proxy were the member concerned, subject to whatever constraints the Member may have place, whether verbally or in writing, upon the proxy. In this context it is important to note that the proxy is empowered to act in any way that in their personal judgement is not subject to a constraint that has been placed upon them by the Member in appointing them.

The Form of Proxy circulated by the Executive Secretary, both in its original form, which I understand has been used by a number of Members in appointing a proxy, and in its amended form, places constraints, however completed by the Member, on voting by the proxy on the behalf of the Member. In its original form, for instance, the proxy is constrained to vote either in favour of the Motion in its present form, or against the Motion in its present form. The amended version of the Form of Proxy introduces the possibility of the Member allowing the proxy to vote at their discretion, but fails to clarify whether this is in respect of the Motion in its present form, as now stated in the Form of Proxy, or more generally.

The Form of Proxy then provides restricted options for the Member to instruct the proxy in voting on other issues that may arise in the course of the meeting. The member is invited to accept either that the proxy may vote at their discretion in respect of all amendments or points of order, or at none of these, thereby significantly constraining the instructions that a Member may give to the proxy.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that while either Form of Proxy may be completed in a way that allows the proxy to vote in one way or another on the Motion in its present form, and on any amendment to the Motion, neither Form of Proxy gives the proxy explicit power to vote on behalf of the Member on an amended form of the Motion. In other words, the proxy may be empowered to vote on an amendment to the Motion, but, at least by this Form of Proxy, is given no power to vote on the Motion once amended. Equally, no power is given to vote on a motion of adjournment, or any other procedural motion that may be put.

In closing, I note a number of points relating to the Notes appended to the Form of Proxy:

1. That there is indeed no requirement for a proxy to be appointed using either of the Forms of Proxy circulated by the Executive Secretary, as properly, if belatedly, noted in each of the Forms. There is also no need for the Form of Proxy submitted on behalf of a Member before the meeting to detail any of the instructions given by the Member to the proxy constraining their vote, which is a matter purely between the Member and the proxy.

2. That there is no need for a Member to inform the Society of their wish to withdraw the appointment of a proxy, although the Member may inform a proxy that they have appointed of the withdrawal of that appointment or may attend the Meeting to vote in person thereby invalidating the appointment of any proxy, indicating before the meeting their intention to vote in person.

3. That it is entirely in order for a Member to appoint more than one proxy, contrary to the fifth point in the Notes to the Form of Proxy. In the event that more than one proxy is appointed, the proxy entitled to vote on behalf of the member is the person last presenting a Form of Proxy in respect of that Member before the meeting. I note in particular that there is no requirement for a proxy to be a Member of the Society.

Finally, it is not my place to offer any advice on ways in which these difficulties can be resolved, only to note that it is indeed unfortunate that you have been placed in this situation by actions that could easily have been avoided by more careful advice and consultation in advance. Indeed, in retrospect it may become evident that matters may have been made worse by a succession of attempts to control the meeting in advance, in ways that may not have been based on the instructions of Council, underlining the importance of the Society ultimately being governed by its Council in accordance with the Charter and Statutes.

Sincerely,

Christopher Mulvey.

Posted by: angusjohn | 01/02/2016

A letter to the LMS council from Melvin Leok, UCSD

Dear LMS Council,

As an editorial advisor to the LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics, I was extremely disappointed to learn of the LMS Council’s decision to discontinue the Journal of Computation and Mathematics, particularly given its relatively unique status as a high-quality online peer-reviewed journal that is open access and free to publish in. As a learned society, it seems to me that the primary role of the London Mathematical Society is in ensuring that mathematical knowledge is disseminated, archived, and available to all who seek it out.

There is a relative dearth of accessible peer reviewed publication avenues that allow for the broad dissemination of research, particularly for mathematicians in less developed countries. The cost of journal subscriptions continue to skyrocket, and are crippling to even established university systems. Open access fees in commercial journals typically cost about US$3000 per paper, and per view access charges are typically around US$40. In view of these costs, it would seem that the relatively modest ₤15000 that it costs the LMS to maintain the Journal of Computational Mathematics is quite possibly the most cost-effective manner it can spend those funds in order to facilitate broad accessibility to high-quality research in computational mathematics. In particular, it is an absolute bargain compared to directly subsidizing authors to publish in commercial open access journals, or subsidizing reader or subscription fees.

The sum in question also pales in comparison to the value of the time donated by the editorial board and the journal referees on behalf of their respective institutions. Unfortunately, when we donate our time in a similar fashion to serve on the editorial boards of journals published by commercial publishers, this does not translate into lower publication or subscription costs for our authors or readers.

More to the point, it seems to be the ultimate dereliction of duty for a learned society with a high-quality peer-reviewed open-access online journal with no publication fees and extremely lean operating expenses to abandon the role of knowledge dissemination to predatory open-access journals with no publication standards, or commercial presses that charge open-access fees that are significantly in excess of the publication costs. In view of this, I strongly urge the LMS Council to reverse its decision to discontinue the Journal of Computation and Mathematics.

Best regards,

Melvin Leok, Ph.D.

Professor of Mathematics

University of California, San Diego

There are 2 points which I would like to make with regard to the proposed closure of the JCM.

Firstly, the LMS Council’s stated intention is to “consider development of a new and better journal in … the interface between computation and mathematics …”.

This would have a different name and possibly a slightly different remit. Members would be asked to decide how this can be achieved.

All this seems sensible. What is hard to understand is why it’s necessary simultaneously to close down the JCM. A more obvious route would be to consult and plan first, so that there is continuity, so it is clear what will happen, clear that whatever that may be is genuinely better, and so that the experience available from those involved with the JCM is not lost.

Secondly. The accounts produced by Susan Hezlet to show the cost of the JCM include a large proportion of staff costs and overheads.

From a spreadsheet: of the £499,466 cumulative costs £132,406 are the savings that the LMS would have made if the JCM did not exist.

If the direct staff costs and overheads are to be taken into account then is the council proposing to save these overheads and staff costs by closing the JCM? This is unlikely: in fact these costs will exist with or without the journal. Again, a natural course of action would be to continue with production of the JCM until such time as it is agreed that a more efficient use of resources is available, appropriate and ready to go.

Personally, I believe the LMS should be trying to support and encourage research which is interdisciplinary; the REF and most UK university managers do exactly the opposite, in spite of many fine speeches, and possibly good intentions. Provision of a journal supporting interdisciplinary research in mathematics and computer science is one way the LMS is being useful in this respect. Oh the other hand the proposed withdrawal of the JCM will certainly not help to motivate research in such interdisciplinary areas.

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