In the current climate for intellectual activities in general, and for mathematics and science in particular, the future of a subject may strongly depend on stimulating articles about its treasures and importance for society. In this context, it is widely accepted that writing articles about mathematics for a fairly general public is a particularly hard task - but it is not impossible, as witnessed by such articles appearing from time to time in many countries. In order to encourage authors to produce mathematical articles with wide appeal in an international forum, the European Mathematical Society, through its committee for Raising Public Awareness of Mathematics (RPA), has recently run a competition for articles that have appeared in a newspaper, or some similar general magazine, in the home country of the author. All languages that could be read by more than one member of the RPA-committee were allowed.

By 31 December 2002, the deadline for submissions, we had received 26 proposals from 14 countries.

The jury
The jury consisted of the members of the RPA-committee:

    Chris J Budd, (UK),
    Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel, (France),
    Michele Emmer, (Italy),
    Andreas Frommer, (Germany),
    Vagn Lundsgaard Hansen, Chair, (Denmark),
    Osmo Pekonen, (Finland),
    José Francisco Rodrigues, (Portugal),
    Marta Sanz-Solé, (Spain).

The jury was impressed by the creativity shown in many of the submitted articles. It was a particularly difficult task to decide between articles with lesser depth for a broad public and articles with greater depth for a more mathematically educated public. Through a careful selection procedure, including evaluations of all proposals received, we think that we found some very good and representative winners. From the point of view of having a good competition it should be mentioned that there were also several other very valuable articles among the submissions.

The prizewinners
Based on the evaluations, and placing emphasis on the general interest and readability of an article, the jury made its recommendations of prize winning articles to the Executive Committee of the EMS, which accepted the recommendations at its meeting in Lisbon, 13-14 September 2003.


Professor Nuno Crato, Department of Mathematics, Instituto superior de Economia e Gestão, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Rua Miguel Lupi 20, 1200 Lisboa, Portugal.

For a three-part article Cibersegredos invioláveis (Unbreakable ciber- secrets), published in the Portuguese weekly newspaper Expresso, on 8, 22, 29 September 2001.

The prize winning articles by Crato can be found in Portuguese and English at:


Professor F. Thomas Bruss, Dpt. de Mathématiques, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Campus Plaine, CP 215, B-1050 Bruxelles, Belgium.

For the article Der Ungewissheit ein Schnippchen schlagen (Playing a Trick on Uncertainty), published in the magazine Spektrum der Wissenschaft, 6 June 2000, and a similar article in the daily German newspaper Die Welt, 17 May 2001.

The prize winning article by Bruss can be found in German and English under "Publications" at:


Professors Sava Grozdev, Ivan Derzhanski and Evgenia Sendova, Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians, Acad. G. Bonchev Street, Block 8, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria.

For the article For those who think mathematics dreary, published in the Bulgarian daily newspaper Dnevnik, 27 December 2001.

The prize winning article by Grozdev, Derzhanski and Sendova can be found in Bulgarian and English at:

The EMS wishes to express its sincere thanks to all authors who submitted articles to the competition.

Comments on this webpage can be sent to the chairman of the RPA-committee of the EMS:

Professor Vagn Lundsgaard Hansen,
Department of Mathematics,
Technical University of Denmark,
Matematiktorvet, Building 303,
DK-2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark.