SIAM News Blog

A Rewarding 2016 for SIAM

By James Crowley and Susan Palantino

2016 proved to be a successful year for SIAM programs and publications in many respects. While its financial picture is strong overall, the society did suffer a deficit in its yearly operational budget.

Programs and Publications

SIAM continues to expand its programs and international reach. Revitalization of its student chapter program, which started about 15 years ago, has led to robust growth with a current total of 177 active student chapters across the world; 27 of these are outside North America. SIAM student chapters receive up to $500 a year for operational expenses, and may receive funding for one chapter representative to attend the SIAM Annual Meeting and meet with SIAM leadership.

SIAM also continues to sponsor Student Travel Awards, which provide funding on a competitive basis for travel to SIAM conferences. This program is open to any student in a discipline relevant to SIAM, with preference given to SIAM student members and graduate students participating in the conference in a significant way (such as presenting a talk or poster). The National Science Foundation partly funds the program, which is supplemented by donations from book authors and SIAM members. In addition, the SIAM Board of Trustees has allocated up to $200,000 per year for this purpose. The total $240,000 provided travel grants for approximately 300 students in 2016. Graduate students are an important part of the SIAM conference program, and students typically comprise about 20-30 percent of conference attendees.

At larger conferences, such as the SIAM Annual Meeting and the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering, SIAM offers special programs targeted towards students. The Annual Meeting includes a student welcome reception, Student Days, the career opportunities meeting, and the career fair. The career fair brings representatives from companies and national laboratories to meet with students interested in learning more about employment opportunities at the respective organizations. 24 companies/laboratories participated in the career fair at the 2016 SIAM Annual Meeting, held in Boston, Mass. Though career fairs tend to be more informational than job fairs, since companies are not necessarily hiring at the time, résumés collected from students (typically between 100-125) are made available to the participating organizations.

SIAM conferences were very successful in 2016 and saw 4,276 total paying attendees, 1,588 of whom were at the SIAM Annual Meeting and the jointly-held SIAM Conference on the Life Sciences. Two SIAM activity group (SIAG) conferences in Europe—the SIAM Conference on Uncertainty Quantification in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the SIAM Conference on Parallel Processing in Paris, France—added more than 1,200 participants to the above totals. SIAGs are beginning to hold more conferences outside of North America, and in such cases, SIAM typically partners with another organization to handle the finances and logistics.

Most of SIAM’s 21 SIAGs hold a conference once every two or three years. In 2016, 12 SIAGs held conferences. SIAGs that do not hold a conference in a given year tend to have a presence at the SIAM Annual Meeting.

In addition to activity groups, which are organized around a technical area or topic, SIAM also has regional sections. Sections are subsets of SIAM members in a geographical area — either in part of a country, a specific country, or a group of countries in a given region. SIAM had 12 active regional sections in 2016. Many of these organize conferences periodically, targeted at serving the regional community. SIAM provides some financial assistance to its regional sections to help support their programs.


SIAM journals are growing in size and scope, and continue to be among the most respected in the field. SIAM now publishes 15 journals, in addition to SIAM Review and Theory of Probability and its Applications (the Russian translation journal). SIAM has added six journals since 2002, when the SIAM Journal on Dynamical Systems was first introduced.

SIAM journals have grown from slightly over 2,000 submissions in 2002 to more than 5,000 submissions in 2016. Though this is due in part to the creation of new journals, submissions to existing journals have increased substantially as well.

SIAM also continues to boast a robust book program, which emphasizes monographs and graduate texts in applied and computational mathematics and related areas. In addition, it publishes peer-reviewed proceedings of several SIAM conferences in computer science and engineering-related fields.

Washington, D.C. Presence

SIAM participates in advocacy for applied mathematics and computational science through the SIAM Committee on Science Policy (CSP), with the support of Lewis-Burke Associates. The CSP meets twice a year in Washington, D.C., where it holds discussions with both leaders from various agencies who fund programs in our discipline and policy makers in the federal government who share an interest in research and education. SIAM also takes an active role in many cross-society organizations, including the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, the Computing Research Association, and the Conference Board on Mathematical Sciences.

The CSP has initiated a new program—the SIAM Science Policy Fellowship Program—to introduce early-career professionals to advocacy and science policy. Details on this program and instructions on how to apply may be found on the SIAM website.


SIAM membership remains very strong. Non-student membership has grown substantially over the last decade, and has stayed relatively constant over the past three years. Student membership has grown dramatically since the introduction of free student memberships more than a decade ago. 2016 membership consisted of 8,472 non-student members and 6,144 student members.


SIAM is indebted to the service of its elected officers, the appointed vice presidents and members of committees, and leaders of the various subgroups (activity groups, sections, chapters) who are dedicated to serving the society and its membership. It is the commitment and work of all of these people that makes SIAM a successful organization.

Looking Ahead

At its July 2017 meeting, the SIAM Board of Trustees decided to embark on a strategic planning exercise beginning in the spring of 2018, under the leadership of SIAM President Nicholas Higham. A group including a subset of the SIAM Board and Council members will meet in what will be called SIAM Advance (a word strategically chosen to avoid calling it a “retreat!”). More information on this will be forthcoming.


SIAM continued to report a robust and healthy financial picture in 2016. It increased net assets by almost $1.7 million overall, due primarily to gains from investments. In 2016, the society incurred a net operating loss of approximately $400,000, as compared to net income of $177,000 in 2015. At the end of 2016, SIAM had investment reserves totaling over $32 million; this allowed the society to move forward with its programs, enabling it to sustain a loss in lean years. While there are many revenue and expense variances between years, it should be noted that over the last several years SIAM has focused on growth around infrastructure and the use of operating resources to build systems and develop programs to better serve its members and the applied math and computational science community. Several examples of these initiatives and growth areas are mentioned above. 

Operating expenses increased by about $230,000, or 1.8 percent, in 2016 as compared to 2015. The largest expenditure for SIAM is salaries and benefits, representing 47 percent of the total. The increase in 2016 compensation costs was approximately 2.4 percent, mostly the result of modest salary increases. Many expenditures—associated with conferences, SIAM News, and membership—decreased or remained unchanged.

Operating revenue declined slightly between 2015 and 2016, a decrease of roughly $360,000, or 2.9 percent. Revenue was lower in some program areas such as conferences (meetings are usually slightly smaller in even years).

SIAM has established strong internal controls over financial operations. Policies are in place to ensure adequate constraint over expenditures, thereby keeping costs at reasonable and justifiable amounts. In addition, the society strives to earn revenue through its programs and operations, allowing it to sustain long-term growth and excellence in its services to members and the community as a whole.

Read the complete 2016 annual and financial reports from SIAM.

   James Crowley is the executive director of SIAM.
   Susan Palantino is SIAM’s chief operating officer.
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