|Professor Lê Minh Hà, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics|
Maths prizes are a significant initiative aimed at fostering the advancement of mathematics and encouraging young mathematicians to pursue their passion in the field of science.
Professor Lê Minh Hà, Executive Director of the Việt Nam Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics, spoke to the Voice of Vietnam's Channel 2 (VOV2) about this matter.
The National Key Programme for Mathematics Development (Math Programme) has been awarding mathematical research works since 2012. Can you tell us more about this?
The programme specifically aims to double the number of internationally published works by 2020 compared to the figure in 2010. Additionally, it strives to enhance the standing and influence of Vietnamese mathematics in the global arena, with the goal of improving the ranking of Vietnamese mathematics from its current position of 50-55 to the range of 40.
To achieve these goals, one of the solutions has been to increase both the quantity and quality of international publications while simultaneously awarding prizes to commend outstanding works. These accolades serve as an incentive for young mathematicians to elevate the calibre of their international publications.
Since 2012, the Executive Board of the Math Programme has consistently identified and bestowed awards upon mathematical works published in prestigious international journals. To be considered for these awards, the works must meet the prerequisite of having at least one co-author who is a lecturer at a domestic university. Each year, a maximum of 100 works are chosen for recognition.
Over the course of nine award cycles, until 2020, the Math Programme has provided support amounting to over VNĐ23 billion (nearly US$990,000) for 736 internationally published works. Each project receives an annual bonus ranging from VNĐ17 million to VNĐ37 million, calculated based on the basic salary of the state.
It is important to note that while various forms of support for scientific publications have been made available from different sources during the 2012-20 period, the award consideration provided by the Math Programme holds significant prestige within the mathematical community, particularly for young mathematicians.
This is evident through the increasing number and quality of applications submitted for award consideration. In 2012, only 81 applications were received, but in subsequent years, the number of applications steadily rose, surpassing 200 registrations in some years.
The Math Programme, along with other basic science support policies such as that of the National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) and investment efforts in research by universities, are important factors. The Mathematics major of university lecturers in the past 10 years has made great progress.
The awarding had been done until 2020, why has the Ministry of Education and Training recently issued a new regulation?
The implementation period of the National Key Programme for Mathematical Development in the previous period was from 2011 to 2020.
The Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics has summarised and evaluated the results of the Math Programme for the 2010-20 period. On that basis, together with the actual situation, set out new goals and solutions for the next 10 years. On December 22, 2020, the Prime Minister issued Decision No 2200/QD-TTg, approving the National Key Programme for Mathematics Development in the 2021-30 period.
One of the important specific goals of the Math Programme for 2021-30 is “Striving to double the number of publications in journals in the list of prestigious journals in the world (SCIE journals) compared to 2010-20".
To implement the solution task of the Math Programme in the new period, the Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics cooperated with the Department of Science and Technology under the Ministry of Education and Training to develop a regulation on consideration and award of the Outstanding Mathematics Project Award under the National Key Programme for the Development of Mathematics for the period of 2021 to 2030. On December 30, 2022, the regulation was promulgated together with the Ministry of Education and Training's Decision 4657/QD-BGDĐ.
There are three most important changes in the Outstanding Mathematics Project Award this period compared to the previous period. Firstly, this is a ministerial-level Science and Technology Award, which is performed every three years (previously it was an annual award review). Secondly, the number of awards is less - up to 60 projects every three years (previously the number was 100 projects per year), and thirdly, it’s only for works published in high-reputation international journals. The prize level is higher and is divided into First Prize, Second Prize, and Third Prize.
With this new regulation, do you think mathematicians can be praised and encouraged and affirm the importance of mathematics in the development of Việt Nam?
The award for excellent mathematics projects in 2021-2030 is the successor to the previous successes of the award for outstanding mathematics works under the Math Programme from 2010 to 2020.
Awards for excellent math work in the previous period (2010-2020) contributed to achieving excellent results, thereby marking some common achievements of the Math Programme, such as increasing the quantity and quality of international publications.
On the Mathscinet system, the results show that in 2010, Việt Nam had about 300 articles. By 2019, the total number of publications was 767, an increase of 2.5 times compared to 2010. Both in quantity and in growth, published in Mathscinet journals of Việt Nam are more than other leading countries in ASEAN, such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
The awards also help improve the level and position of Vietnamese mathematics in the international arena, in order to bring Việt Nam's mathematics ranking from the current position (50 - 55) to the 40th position. The improvement in the quantity and quality of mathematics works has made an important contribution to enhancing the position of Vietnamese Mathematics, creating momentum for Vietnamese Mathematics to have fundamental changes in both quantity and quality, raising the rank of Vietnamese Mathematics from the first position 50-55 to 35-40.
In this new phase of development, our goal will not only be to encourage support for scientific research through regular publication but also to focus on the quality and impact of the work.
One thing that we see very clearly is that there are scientists who publish a lot and regularly, but there are also scientists who are focusing on researching and solving a big, meaningful problem, with the time taken to do so being longer.
Therefore, the Outstanding Mathematics Projects Award, awarded every three years, will contribute to the orientation of the whole community, focusing on works of great quality and significance, not only interested in published quantity. VNS