As one of the ways to raise public understanding and awareness of mathematics, the European Mathematical Society occasionally organizes competitions to write articles of a mathematical theme that enhance knowledge about the nature of mathematics and what mathematicians do. The articles should be written for as wide an audience as possible but the exact target audience may vary with each competition. The competitions are organized by the EMS committee for Raising Public Awareness of Mathematics, which also functions as the jury for the competitions.

Members of the RPA committee

    Ehrhard Behrends, Germany
    Chris J Budd, UK
    Mireille Chaleyat-Maurel (Vice chair), France
    Michele Emmer, Italy
    Andreas Frommer, Germany
    Olga Gil-Medrano, Spain
    Vagn Lundsgaard Hansen (Chair), Denmark
    Osmo Pekonen, Finland
    José Francisco Rodrigues, Portugal
    Marta Sanz-Solé, Spain
    Robin Wilson, UK.

Further details about the composition of the committee for Raising Public Awareness of Mathematics can be found at .

Running the EMS Article Competition 2005
During the first EMS Article Competition (2003) it became apparent that it would be necessary to distinguish between articles written for a completely general audience in a daily newspaper and articles written for an educated audience in a more specialized magazine. For the EMS Article Competition 2005, the target audience for the articles was chosen to be the educated layman.

On the deadline for submissions, 1st August 2005, the RPA committee had received ten articles for consideration. Through a careful selection procedure, four articles were chosen for further evaluation to choose the prize winners. In this phase, the RPA committee put particular emphasis on the general interest and readability of an article in the light of its mathematical level. The recommendations of the RPA committee were approved by the Executive Committee of the European Mathematical Society at its meeting in London,11th-12th March 2006.

Article Competition 2005
The Prizewinners


Professor F. Thomas Bruss, Dpt. de Mathématiques, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Campus Plaine, CP 210, B-1050 Bruxelles, Belgium, for his article "Die Kunst der richtigen Entscheidung” published in the magazine "Spektrum der Wissenschaft" (Scientific American, German Ed.), Juni 2005. It has also been published in French in "Pour La Science" (Scientific American, French Ed.), Septembre 2005 and in Arabic in “Al Oloom” (Scientific American, Arabic Ed.), Novembre 2005. An English version of the article will appear in a forthcoming issue of the EMS Newsletter and will also be made available at .

Citation: Thomas Bruss receives the first prize for an appealing and highly original article on how to base decision-making on reasoning. The article presents among others recent research of the author and is very attractively written for an audience of educated laymen. The article has already been translated into several languages.


Professor Tom M. Apostol, Project “Mathematics”, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena,CA 91125 USA, for his article A Visual Approach to Calculus Problems published in the magazine "Engineering & Science" (published quarterly by the California Institute of Technology), Volume LXIII, Number 3, pp. 22-31, 2000; see .

Citation: Tom M. Apostol receives the second prize for a wonderful piece of exposition showing how old problems from calculus can be developed with fresh eyes and may be given new dimensions using modern technology. The article especially appeals to scientists and engineers who enjoyed calculus courses and maintain a certain curiosity for mathematics.


Professor Hansjörg Geiges, Mathematisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, Weyertal 86-90, D-50931 Köln, Germany, for his article Christiaan Huygens and Contact Geometry published in the Dutch magazine “Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde” (5th series), Vol. 6, pp.117-123, 2005; see .

Citation: Hansjörg Geiges receives the third prize for an interesting article presenting a nice combination of history, culture and mathematics related to contact geometry. The article originates in the author’s inaugural lecture at the University of Köln (chair in geometry) and it is especially appealing to mathematicians and physicists.


Professor Aviezri S. Fraenkel, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, Weizmann Institute of Science, 76100 Rehovot, Israel, for his article Why are Games Exciting and Stimulating? accepted for publication in the magazine "Math Horizons", which is published by the Mathematical Association of America (to appear February 2007 in a special games issue). It has also been published in German (translation by Niek Neuwahl) in connection with a games exhibition that took place in Göttingen, 17 July - 21 August, 2005; see .

Citation: Aviezri S. Fraenkel was a very close runner up with an article on games. The article is appealing to the many laypersons interested in games, in particular to those who like to analyse the games.

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:

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