Posted by: Administrator | 04/08/2009

Stephen Huggett: “Current strengths of the LMS must be protected”

The LMS is very good at its learned society work. Its publishing is of
extremely high quality, and its grants schemes give crucial support to
mathematics research which is simply not available elsewhere. These
schemes have high success rates and little bureaucracy, for small but
useful amounts of money. They have focused particularly, but not
exclusively, on research into mathematics itself. I don’t think anybody
doubts the value of interdisciplinary research: the benefits both ways,
especially for example in physics or computer science, are enormous. But
there are those who appear not to value the heart of our subject,
academic mathematics.

It is very clear that LMS members regard these two activities,
publishing and grant giving, as of the highest importance. Nobody knows
for how long the current business model in publications will work, but
the most important aspect here is reputation: any change of name or
image could do irreparable harm.

Our grant schemes have also been under pressure. Ten years ago the LMS
spent a little more on grants than on administration. Now it spends more
than twice as much on administration as on grants.

Some of our increased administration has arisen because we do more
lobbying and responding to consultations. It is clearly necessary to do
what we can, here, but we should be realistic about what can be achieved
in this way. The “single voices” in physics and chemistry have not been
able to halt the collapse of science education.

It is even more clear that when we agree with other societies (such as
the IMA and the RSS) we should work with them.

The current strengths of the LMS are highly valued by our community, and
must be protected.

Stephen Huggett


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