2022 marks the 70th anniversary of SIAM’s formal establishment and incorporation — much has changed since then! The idea of a professional organization for mathematicians in industry and government first arose in November 1951 at an assembly of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. This concept was well-received by attendees, and the inaugural organizational meeting for the budding society took place in December. During this gathering, members of the organizing committee settled on the name “Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics,” in part because it lent itself well to an interesting acronym: SIAM.
SIAM’s first three meetings took place in March, April, and May of 1952 at the Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University). William Francis Gray Swann, director of the Franklin Institute’s Bartol Research Foundation and SIAM’s first conference speaker, delivered his talk on “Mathematics, the Backbone of Science” to an audience of roughly 180 individuals.
On April 30, 1952, SIAM was officially incorporated in the State of Delaware with three key purposes: (i) further the application of mathematics to industry and science, (ii) promote basic research in mathematics that leads to new methods and techniques for industry and science, and (iii) provide media for the exchange of information and ideas between mathematicians and other technical/scientific personnel. The bylaws were completed in June 1952 and the election of SIAM’s first officers, trustees, and council members took place that October. Elected officers included William E. Bradley (president), Grace M. Hopper and George W. Patterson III (vice presidents), Emil Amelotti (treasurer), and I. Edward Block (secretary). By the following year, SIAM had six corporate members and about 350 individual members; that number has since increased to more than 14,500 members in the U.S. and around the world.
The SIAM that we know has grown immensely since its incorporation as a local entity 70+ years ago. The organization now hosts approximately 15 conferences in applied and computational mathematics each year; publishes 18 peer-reviewed research journals that receive more than 6,000 annual submissions; and sponsors numerous activity groups, student chapters, programs, and funding initiatives that benefit its rich international community.
Information on this page came from a 1973 SIAM Review article by I. Edward Block.