Mathematics in Brazil

A story of commitment and vision

The first graduate programs in mathematics, in the 1930s, were conducted at Universidade de São Paulo and Universidade do Brasil (today called Universidade do Rio de Janeiro). Leopoldo Nachbin and Maurício Matos Peixoto, who were trained at these institutions, founded Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA), in 1952, and were the first Brazilian mathematicians invited to the ICM, in 1962 and 1974, respectively.

In the 1950s and 1960s, a new generation of Brazilian mathematicians emerges, largely trained abroad through Brazilian government programs. Then came new graduate programs in mathematics, supported by these new talents and by the programs already existing at IMPA and USP. An important milestone was the creation of Colóquio Brasileiro de Matemática (Brazilian Mathematical Colloquium), a large event that gathers the entire research community every two years.

Sociedade Brasileira de Matemática (SBM) (Brazilian Mathematical Society), now with 2,000 members, was founded in 1969 and is the Brazilian member organization of IMU. SBM runs a nonprofit publishing house that publishes math books and magazines. Standouts include Projeto Klein de Matemática em Português (Klein Project in Portuguese), and Programa de Mestrado para Professores do Ensino Secundário (PROFMAT) (Master's Program for Secondary School Teachers).

With the rapid development of the 1970s, the importance of mathematics to the overall growth of science and technology in Brazil garnered special treatment by the government. Other mathematical societies were then established:

With time, more events and initiatives emerged. Starting in 2002 came the Bienal da Matemática (Mathematics Biennial) with over 2,000 attendees, dedicated to the teaching and promotion of mathematics at all levels.

Mathematics in Brazil today

In little more than half a century, the number of Brazilian mathematicians reached close to 2,000 active researchers and teaching faculty. Over 50 graduate Mathematics and Statistics programs in Brazil are spread throughout the national territory and train new generations of researchers from Brazil, the rest of Latin America and, increasingly, Asia, Europe and USA and Canada.

Research in Brazil covers most areas of pure and applied mathematics, with regular publications in top journals. Mathematicians working in Brazil contributed over 14,000 research articles in the last 25 years to the MathSciNet database.

Most importantly, we have also had a growing presence in the ICM series. Up to the 2014 event, Brazil had 2 plenary and 12 invited lecturers. Our delegation in ICM 2018 is the fifth largest, and features one planary and twelve invited speakers from seven different institutions.

Outreach activities

Our research community has long been committed to promoting mathematics in Brazilian society. Standout initiatives include OBMEP -- the largest scientific competition in the world -- and the PROFMAT masters for high schools.

In the run-up to ICM 2018 and IMO 2017 (both held in Rio), the Brazilian National Congress declared 2017 – 2018 as the Biennium of Mathematics in Brazil. The Biennium is an umbrella for a host of outreach activities, including new initiatives such as the “Festival da Matemática.