Some salary comparisons

April 16, 2014

Since the AMS website has put on its frontpage a study of faculty salaries at US PhD granting math departments, here are a few simplistic comparisons.


For the group of “Large Public Universities”, the New-Hired Assistant Professors get at least $70,000, with a median of $84,700. In that same group, the median for Full Professors is $126,900.

For the group of “Medium Public Universities”, the New-Hired Assistant Professors get at least $50,000, with a median of $76,200. And the median for Full Professors is $106,200.

Finally, for “Small Universities”, the New-Hired Assistant Professors get at least $50,000, with a median of $68,500. And the median for Full Professors is $93,500.

At Private Universities things are much higher still.


I haven’t searched for elaborate statistics.  A position of Lecturer at Leeds mentions a minimum salary of about $56,360, while a position for Chair Of Mathematics at University College in London is mentioning a minimum salary of “£65,179 per annum inclusive of London Allowance”, that’s about $109,455.

So it’s a bit less than in the US. Obviously, some figures comparing the cost of living on both sides of the pond should be thrown in to put things in perspective, which I won’t do myself for lack of time… If this numbeo website comparison is to be believed, the cost of living is much less in the US than in the UK, so academics in america are really much better off than their british counterparts. (One thing not mentioned by numbeo are health insurance costs, which I believe are much higher in the US, perhaps to the point of evening things out.)


A tenured Assistant Professor there is roughly what’s called a “Maître de Conférence”. Since they work in public universities, their salary follows a publicly available grid (the same at large and small universities) which starts at €2,102.15 gross monthly, so that’s about $34,862 annually (at the current €/$ rate). Impressively low compared to the US figures. And after ten years the grid reaches €3,116.19 gross monthly, which is about $51,678 annually.  That’s for the salary part, some of them also have an extra $2,000 a year for scientific merit, I think.

As for “Professeur des Universités”, which roughly corresponds to Full Professor, the corresponding grid starts at about $50,525 gross annually. It’s difficult to say after ten years where it gets because of all the different cases. Something around $82,000 probably, noticeably below the UK and the US. The very top of the grid reaches $101,360 (obviously for very few people, a couple of Nobel Prize winners maybe).

Since France and the UK have very roughly the same cost of living according to that numbeo website, the french researchers are those with the smaller earnings relative to cost of living (by some distance).

Recent observations

March 31, 2014

Three open access journals are now three months into existence. On the one hand the two Gold OA ones from the AMS: Proc.AMS Ser.B has 5 papers while Trans.AMS Ser.B has 2.  (For perspective, the backlog for Proc.AMS is 11 issues as of february, 28 — similar to what it’s always been).    On the other hand, Green OA journal Algebraic Geometry published by the Foundation Compositio Mathematica has had in the same amount of time 12 papers in two issues.

As for the Forum of Mathematics Pi and Sigma journals from Cambridge University Press, which are both Gold OA (but with currently a fee waiver, so effectively Green) and which have been accepting papers for a year and a half: Sigma had 5 papers in 2013 and so far has 4 in 2014; Pi had 4 in 2013 and none so far in 2014.


Completely unrelatedly, a couple weeks ago the first séminaire d’excellence organised by the Académie Francophone des Savoirs took place in Gennevilliers. The aim is to provide talented french-speaking graduate students from developing countries a place to meet established researchers.  Ever-present Cédric Villani (who, incidentally, was president of the support committee of recently elected Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo) was among the speakers, and agreed to take a selfie with the laureates and…his medal!

French mathematics during WW1

March 30, 2014

Since many events are planned here in France for the 100 years of the start of WW1, I’ve had a little look at the impact on french mathematicians at the time.

Several historians of mathematics have produced over the past few years many interesting books and papers (many in english, for wider readership).

I have noticed that Laurent Mazliak has an interesting paper on René Gateaux, who died in 1914 aged 25, even before completing his PhD.  Mazliak also has a book in collaboration with Rossana Tazzioli on the intense correspondance between Vito Voltera (who wanted Italy to join the conflict, and himself fought in the trenches aged 55) and several french mathmaticians (Borel, Hadamard and Picard).

David Aubin also has several interesting papers on the topic. One discusses what happened to students of Ecole Normale Supérieure. A few months ago Aubin published three more papers (all will appear in a book to be published by the AMS): with Catherine Goldstein this long one on the general setting beyond the french perspective, with Goldstein and Hélène Gispert that one centred on parisian mathematicians, and a last one on ballistics.

Between 2003 and 2008, a seminar was held with many more contributors.

Some recent prizes and lectures

December 29, 2013

This blog is now midway through its silent transition mode (in which the author is very busy, and will probably en up somewhere interesting, but cold and very cloudy).

Some items spotted recently:

Back to silent mode for now…


September 14, 2013

This blog will probably go extinct for the next 6 months ; in particular, all comments will have to go to the moderation queue.

In the meantime, here is barred spiral galaxy NGC 1300

(from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on flickr)

Gold Open Access starts at the AMS

September 4, 2013

The AMS has announced that their two Gold Open Access journals have started accepting papers on september 1, 2013: the Proc.AMS(series B) and Trans.AMS(series B) journals.

So, since they already had Green Open Access for all their previous journals, I’m really curious to see how it pans out.

The APC for a paper in Proc.AMS(B) are $750 per paper in 2014, and $1500 after that. For Trans.AMS(B) it is $1,400 at discount rate, and then $2,750 from 2015 onwards.

As I understand it, the differences are:

Characteristics Green Gold
Electronic version available to subscribers only. But two important tweaks: (a) archives of issues older than 6 years are free to all, (b) final preprint versions posted on the arXiv or personal homepage are allowed (so just page or theorem numbers might differ in the published version). available to all on the journal website permanently under CC licence
costs to readers’ university Proc.AMS (electronic only) costs $1,083 per year to institutional members (2014 rate) nothing
costs to authors’ university nothing Each Proc.AMS(B) paper costs $750 (2014 rate with 50% discount)
publication delay after acceptance about 1 year and 2 months (13 issues of backlog as of august 31) none

So basically, on purely economic terms, Green beats Gold straightforwardly.

But maybe a PhD student or postdoc who prefers to have on a CV a final publication reference rather than something ‘to appear in’ may want to go for Gold. That’s about the only reason I can think of. What remains to be seen is whether or not this would start a vicious cycle of some sort (not sure what, if any).

Edit: come to think of it, the vicious cycle might be “so you see, people want to publish this way, so we’ve decided to phase out paper journals and green OA entirely”.

Shelah’s extraordinary output

August 13, 2013

Or is it extraordinaly (pun intended)? You have to wonder!

Indeed, his latest one posted to the arXiv has, among the frontpage footnotes, “Publication 1023″! There is (at least) that amount on his archive (although the 1000th is marked as ‘SAVED’, presumably for something especially noteworthy), and 630 of them are on the arXiv (as of today…).

He apparently is 68, and received his PhD in 1969 (the year he started publishing), so that’s 1023/(2013-1969)=23.25 papers per year, for 44 years! For comparison, other prolific recent mathematicians include Erdős (about 1525 papers in about 67 years) and Tao (about 250 papers and 17 books in 17 years, according to wikipedia; so just for papers he is on track for 1000 in about 68 years).

Back to Shelah, and it seems that many of his papers are moreover important, with one in JAMS just in the past couple years, while his older works have been recognised many times, including by the 2013 ‘Seminal Contribution to Research’ Leroy P. Steele prize. Slightly more information on his work pre-XXIth century is on the MacTutor, but a self-contained text (at the level of a graduate student or non-specialist mathematician) giving a moderately technical overview of his main achivements would be very welcome, I’d imagine (the slides for his Plenary Talk at the 2012 ECM are interesting, for instance).


August 11, 2013

Truly exciting advances in DNA-based information storage are being made, resulting in something that is robust, lasts thousands of years and has very high density compared to flash memory. And they announce “commercially viable technology within five years”!

Hopefully, some self-generating “archive of human knowledge” will one day be designed: a DNA fragment that, when put into some appropriate medium (e.g. your basement lab, or even an ocean on some distant planet that harbours reasonable chemistry), starts producing a biomachine that is a kind of tablet computer (with touchscreen and sound), and said biomachine will then be used to read the data contained on the rest of that DNA fragment (where the actual archive of human knowledge has been encoded).

Then put that at several locations across the solar system and beyond, for good measure.


Two summer polls

July 26, 2013

To test the Poll tool, here are a few semi-serious questions and answers.

Normally, things are set up to hide results and block repeat voters with both cookies and IP filtering. I’ll probably reveal the results in a month time when the polls close.

In both poll you should be able to pick several answers, if so inclined.

Here’s the first one:

And here’s the second one:

Update (august 27, 2013): I’ve now closed the polls, and it’s clear this corner of the web is not really visited at all, especially in august. Indeed, there’s been only 4 votes on each poll, and each one for a different answer. Thanks to those who voted, but no statistically significant result can be drawn from them, which ends this little experiment.

Some (serious) open access journals

June 29, 2013

Since the list of mathematics open access journals over at the Directory of Open Access Journals is both incomplete and full of obscure journals, here is my subjective list of serious ones. Feel free to mention omissions (although I reserve myself the choice of possibly not adding them).

[Edit: in fact, I am mostly interested in serious ones which moreover do not charge any submission fees (so-called 'article processing charges' APC). So, only those will be listed (I'll make an exception for some journals that have APC with a generous fee-waiver policy).]

Generalist journals

Name Submission fee? Start year Publisher
Osaka Journal of Mathematics No 1964 Osaka University
New York Journal of Mathematics No 1994 New York State University at Albany
Documenta Mathematica No 1996 Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung
New-Zealand Journal of Mathematics No 2007 University of Auckland
Münster Journal of Mathematics No 2008 Universität Münster
Confluentes Mathematici No 2009 Université de Lyon
Forum of Mathematics, Pi Yes* 2013 Cambridge University Press

Specialized journals

Name Submission fee? Start year Publisher
Electronic Journal of Differential Equations No 1993 Texas State University at San Marcos
Electronic Journal of Combinatorics No 1994 Currently hosted at the Australian National University
Mathematical Physics Electronic Journal No 1995 Universitat de Barcelona
Electronic Journal of Probability No 1996 Institute of Mathematical Statistics & Bernoulli Society
Electronic Communications in Probability No 1996 Institute of Mathematical Statistics & Bernoulli Society
Journal of Computation and Mathematics No 1998 London Mathematical Society
INTEGERS: Eletronic Journal of Combinatorial Number Theory No 2000 University of West Georgia & Charles University & DIMATIA
Dynamics of Partial Differential Equations No 2004 International Press of Boston
Online Journal of Analytic Combinatorics No 2006 University of Auckland
ALEA: Latin-American Journal of Probability and Mathematical Statistics No 2006 IMPA and Instituto do Milênio
Forum Of Mathematics, Sigma Yes* 2013 Cambridge University Press
Algebraic Geometry No 2014 Foundation Compositio Mathematica

Expository journals

Name Submission fee? Start year Publisher
Bulletin of the AMS No 1891 American Mathematical Society
Probability Surveys No 2004 Institute of Mathematical Statistics & Bernoulli Society
Bulletin of Mathematical Sciences No 2011 Springer/Birkhäuser

(*: fee waiver in some cases)


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