sciences for a few years, partially restoring balance, though the increases shrank later in the 1980s before the doubling goal was reached. The report also stirred a good deal of discussion within the community and led to greater involvement of mathematical sciences in discussions about federal science policy. According to the subsequent “David II report,”3 members of the mathematical sciences community had “shown a growing awareness of the problems confronting their discipline and increased interest in dealing with the problems, particularly in regard to communication with the public and government agencies and involvement in education.”
Because the imbalance in federal funding was only partially remedied as a result of the David report—federal funding for mathematical sciences research increased by 34 percent, not 100 percent—the funding agencies that support the mathematical sciences decided in 1989 to commission the David II report to assess progress and recommend further steps to strengthen the enterprise. That report found that federal support for graduate and postdoctoral students had increased substantially between 1984 and 1989—by 61 percent and 42 percent, respectively—and some aspects of infrastructure, such as computing facilities and research institutes, had been upgraded. But overall, the David II report found that the foundations of the research enterprise continued to be “as shaky now as in 1984.”4 It reiterated the calls of the first David report and recommended continued work toward doubling of federal support. It also recommended improvements to the career path in the mathematical sciences, through increases in the number of researchers, postdoctoral research positions, and graduate research associateships, all of which indeed did grow during the 1990s. It is not clear, though, that those steps reduced the degree to which U.S. students from high school onward leave the mathematical sciences pipeline. The David II report also asserted specifically that “recruitment of women and minorities into the mathematical sciences is a high priority,” but it did not propose concrete steps to improve this. In general, the early 1990s was not a favorable time for a renewed push for federal funding, and it is not clear whether the David II report had much impact in that area.
In 1997, the National Science Foundation (NSF’s) Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) organized the Senior Assessment Panel for the International Assessment of the U.S. Mathematical Sciences. The study was meant to evaluate how well DMS was supporting NSF’s strategic goals with respect to the mathematical sciences—which included “enabl[ing] the United States to uphold a position of world leadership in all aspects of . . .mathematics . . . promot[ing] the discovery, integration, dissemination, and
3 NRC, 1990, Renewing U.S. Mathematics: A Plan for the 1990s. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 3.