Every four years mathematicians from all continents gather at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) to celebrate recent advances in their field, to award the so-called Fields medals ("the Nobel prize of mathematics"), the Nevanlinna prize (same in Computer Science) and the newly-established Gauss Prize (in applied mathematics) and to hear each other report on their recent research. The congress is run by the International Mathematical Union, and is planned years in advance. The program committee selects about twenty mathematicians from all over the world to deliver a plenary address, one that does not run in parallel with any other event so that all delegates to the congress can attend it. Obviously, it is a great honor bestowed upon very few mathematicians to be selected for such presentation.
In addition to the plenary talks the program committee invites about 160 mathematicians to present 45 minute sectional talks. As the name suggests, these run in parallel sections according to specific areas, but are nevertheless supposed to be accessible to a general mathematics audience. An invitation to a sectional talk also represents a significant recognition of a mathematician's standing in the research community.
The most recent ICM took place in Madrid, Spain, in August 2006, with almost 4,000 people in attendance. We are pleased to report that our own Arkadi Nemirovski delivered one of the twenty invited addresses on "Advances in convex optimization: conic programming". In addition to Arkadi's plenary the ACO program was also represented in Section 14, Combinatorics, where Robin Thomas delivered an invited 45 minute talk on Pfaffian orientations of graphs, a subject he has been working on for many years now with several coauthors, including Serguei Norine (ACO'05).