Paul Vaderlind, Sweden

Posted Friday 13 July 2012

[Paul Vaderlind]


Paul Vaderlind was born in Poland in 1948. His inclination to mathematics and problem solving became apparent very early. Since the age of 10 the book The Moscow Puzzles by Boris Kordemsky and other similar publications became a frequent companion of his activities. This brought him to studying mathematics at the University of Warsaw. In 1969 he continued his education in Sweden. He got his PhD degree in the field of Discrete Mathematics from Stockholm University and, since 1974, he has been teaching at this institution. Besides his research and lecturing activities, he has been strongly engaged in mathematics competitions and in the education of gifted young people. He has been visiting once a week a school with a special program in mathematics, offering many hours for training the pupils. Since 1999 he has been the leader of the Swedish IMO team.

Paul Vaderlind is also well-known for his contributions to the Baltic Way competition with which he was strongly involved from the very beginning. He was attracted by the idea of team competition, and by the fact that this competition targeted the Baltic Sea countries. Sweden was one of the first Western countries to join the Baltic Way. Paul worked hard to get other countries join this competition too. A recognition for this involvement was the Gold Medal of the Latvian Mathematical Society given to him in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the organization.

Paul Vaderlind’s international involvement in spreading mathematics education (on all levels) and mathematics competitions is truly admirable. For more than a decade, he has been involved with developing countries on a voluntary basis. This concerns mostly Master and PhD education but also mathematics competitions. Many projects, primarily in Africa, ranging from Madagascar through Rwanda to Senegal, are under the umbrella of SIDA (Swedish International Development Agency). However, he is also involved with other organizations such as the French CIMPA (in South-East Asia), the European Union (in Congo), London Mathematical Society (in Ivory Coast) and so on.

A particular feature of Paul Vaderlind’s activities is that wherever he is and whatever he does, he always makes a point of promoting mathematics competitions. He has helped to organize some national competitions and trained teachers. As a result some new countries were intoduced to PAMO (Pan African Mathematical Olympiad), a competition in which Paul has been involved since 2003. There he served as a problem proposer, a coordinator and in whatever capacity needed for the success of this competition.

One of several projects in which Paul is currently strongly involved is PACM (Pan-African Centre for Mathematics), an ambitious project, creating a kind of Stockholm University branch (for Master and PhD in pure mathematics only) in Dar es Salaam, and serving gifted students from all Africa. After trying all different models of supporting Master and PhD students from Africa, it was decided to move the whole process to the continent itself. This would also serve to reduce the brain drain problem. Beginning on January, 2013, 40 Masters students will be accepted per year from all over Africa with the aim to get a Swedish Master and later Swedish PhD degree. Paul is the coordinator for this important project.

Paul Vaderlind has an important role also in SNAP Mathematics Foundation of Edmonton. The Foundation was established to promote Math Fair. This is an activity for middle school students, who prepare booths featuring interactive mathematical puzzles for the audience. The movement has taken root in North America and Paul Vaderlind is spreading it to other parts of the world. He has held the world's largest Math Fair, with 147 booths, in Stockholm, and he has held two successful Math Fairs in Africa.