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Text Box: medal.Lafforgue, being a Frenchman, preceded his talk by some comments regretting that the only language at such congresses was English. He was nevertheless pragmatic enough to speak in English anyway. But he expressed his protest by showing the transparencies in French and Chinese only. 
	There were three one-hour plenary talks each morning between Wednesday August 21 and the following Tuesday with no scientific activity on Sunday.  (Unfortunately I missed the last two lectures on mathematical physics by Ludwig Faddeev and Edward Witten on Wednesday, Aug. 28, because I had to make travel arrangements long before the programme was announced and there were no more seats available on flights out of Beijing on Aug. 29.) In the afternoons there were three to four parallel sessions of invited 45 minute talks as well as numerous short communications (15 minutes) and poster sessions. My impression was that these short sessions were not very effective and not very well attended as there was too much else going on at the same time. Poster sessions attracted even less attention. They occupied just a small part of the big hall that contained computers for e-mail etc. In fact, a suggestion was made in the daily newsletter that perhaps 15-minute sessions should be eliminated altogether and replaced by poster sessions that could be arranged in a more attractive way.  As expected, the quality of talks, plenary and invited 45-minutes, differed widely. Even some plenary talks were probably comprehensible only to a very small part of the audience, some others were very good, in the sense that also a non-expert of the field could really learn something. An unusual feature was that on registration we received two fat volumes with the full written versions of all the 45-minute invited talks. That could be helpful when trying to select what talks to listen to. The plenary talks  will be written up and sent to us in another volume probably much later. Clearly, these people were too important to be coerced to mail in a manuscript several weeks in advance. 
	A number of public lectures by international celebrities had been arranged in the evenings (Stephen Hawking before the congress, John Nash and Ed Witten).
	Having read the biography of Nash I was interested in seeing the man in person. He was introduced as the only mathematicians who received a Nobel prize, was highly  acclaimed 

Text Box: by the large audience, and received many flower bouquets after his talk. The talk itself was less spectacular. It was a recycled version of a talk in 1966 on a game theory problem read off an old typescript that was projected on the screen.
	There were some other special activities like on the history of Chinese mathematics. I attended one on electronic publishing which was quite interesting. Many of the proposal made there came from an IMU committee and have also been reported, for example, in the AMS Notices. One proposal was that all mathematics departments and institutes should have a standardized (secondary) web page that can be searched systematically by indexing services. 
	During the congress there was an extensive programme of sightseeing excursions for accompanying persons (and mathematicians needing a break). I skipped one whole day of talks to visit the Great Wall, a less than two-hour bus trip from Beijing. In addition to these normally day-long bus tours, which were offered at a reasonable price, many free “footloose tours” within Beijing were being offered.
	One evening, as part of the entertainment for conference participants	and to give them some idea of Chinese culture, a variety show was	 offered on the stage of the main conference hall. It started off with a choir made up of academics and researchers from local universities and research institutes singing a number of European songs in English, German and French. This was followed by a tenor's rendition of various Chinese songs, some great dancing by member's of a local dance group, an all too brief introduction to Chinese acrobatics, and a 25 minute introduction to Chinese opera. All in all, it was a well-balanced and highly entertaining show.  
	There was also a special performance for the ICM members at the Beijing opera on Sunday evening. This was also quite an experience for us who were only familiar with European operas, most of all the very amazing flawlessly presented acrobatics.
	Altogether attendance at ICM2002 was a very satisfying experience both mathematically and culturally. Even Air Canada did not cause too many inconveniences this time (just one day delay in getting our luggage to Shanghai at the beginning of the trip). 
Text Box: 	Several department members attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Beijing this summer. For me this was the first
occasion to travel to this vast country, and since last April I asked the future Newsletter Editor for some advice about travel arrangements
he asked me later to report some of my impressions.
	Overall the organization for the probably between five or six thousand participants was quite impressive. I do not remember anything that did not go off according to the plan.
	We arrived on Monday evening, August 20, after having participated in a six-day pre-congress tour that had shown us three interesting parts of China, Shanghai, Guilin and Xian. Registration went smoothly. We got our name tags and were classified by ribbons, red for invited speakers, blue for the ordinary guys, and yellow for accompanying persons. Without these nobody was allowed into the convention centre, but with them one had access to all facilities from e-mail to free bus rides in the city. Security was quite high. There were policemen everywhere, but they were extremely friendly. At our hotel they greeted us with smiles every morning and evening and seemed happy to turn the revolving door for us.
	The next day was still reserved for registration and for ceremonies. In the afternoon an impressive fleet of busses took all the participants to the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square where the opening session was held. This was in the traditional format with speeches by various dignitaries from the International Mathematical Union and the government. Among them the 90 year old geometer Shiing-shen Chern was on the podium and gave a short speech. For the first time, apparently, in the history of these congresses a head of state took part in the ceremonies. The president of China, Jiang Zemin, helped presenting the Fields medals and the Nevanlinna prize but did not make a speech.  Also following tradition, there was a second part of the session, after a short break and without the politicians, that consisted of talks explaining the achievements of the Fields medal winners. These ceremonies were followed by a banquet, also in the Great Hall of the People.
	The actual mathematical sessions began on Wednesday morning with the invited talk by Laurent Lafforgue. Possibly by coincidence, he had been scheduled as the first plenary speaker and had also received a Fields medal the day before. (The second Fields medal winner, Vladimir Voevodsky was not a plenary speaker, but a special talk in the evening was arranged for him to explain his work that earned him the Text Box: International Congress of Mathematicians in Beijing 
H. Kunzle

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