A delegation of the International Mathematical Union is scheduled to visit Seoul next week to inspect the country`s capabilities for hosting the 2014 International Congress of Mathematicians.
IMU president Laszlo Lovasz, secretary Martin Groetschel and vice president Ma Zhiming will observe facilities, plus meet government officials and local mathematicians from Monday through Thursday, the Korean Mathematical Society said.
The ICM is the world`s largest congress in the mathematics community, taking place once every four years and attended by an average of 4,000 mathematicians from 100 countries. The Fields Medal, the top honor a mathematician not older than age 40 can receive, is awarded during the opening ceremony of the ICM.
Seoul is competing against Rio de Janeiro and Montreal to host the ICM 2014.
"Our biggest comparative advantage over Rio and Montreal would be our $2 million travel assistance program to invite 1,000 mathematicians from developing countries to take part in the ICM and share the benefits," said Park Hyung-ju, chair of the committee for Seoul ICM 2014 and professor at the Korea Institute for Advanced Study.
"The theme of our bidding proposal is Dreams and Hopes for Late Starters."
Global corporations such as Hyundai Motor Co. and POSCO have agreed to contribute for the expenses-paid trips and the KMS plans to contract college dormitories to use for accommodations.
If Seoul wins the right to host the ICM, it plans to allow North Korea to host some of the 60 satellite conferences in neighboring regions before and after the nine-day ICM.
"We hope to encourage the North Korean mathematics community and possibly help the country regain its membership of the IMU," Park said.
North Korea lost its membership in the early 1990s as its annual fees were overdue, but has continued to attend the ICM.
On Tuesday, the IMU mission is scheduled to tour the COEX convention center, the proposed venue, and meet with Prime Minister Han Seung-soo. They will also have talks with Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and young Korean mathematicians on Wednesday, and then with executives of Samsung Electronics Co., which is expected to support the gathering, on Thursday, the KMS said.
The IMU`s 11-member executive committee is expected to pick the host city of the ICM 2014 in late April, and the decision will be ratified at the IMU congress in Bangalore, India, in August 2010.
"Hosting the ICM would help raise local enthusiasm for mathematics, which is the language of all basic sciences and financial math, and boost research productivity," Park said.
South Korea ranked 12th in the world in terms of Science Citation Index Expanded publications in mathematics in 2007.
By Kim So-hyun