BOSTON—The American Mathematical Society (AMS) has agreed to ask its 20,000 members to set a policy on the role of the military in funding mathematics research. The vote, to be taken in January, will cover five motions touching on the nature of federal support for the discipline.

The society’s decision to poll its membership comes after two controversial motions on the topic of military funding generated heated debate during the society’s meeting last January. One of these motions called for the AMS to “lend no support” to the Reagan administratjon’s SDI program, although individual members would not be prohibited from accepting SDI funding. The other motion called for the AMS to “direct its efforts towards increasing the fraction of non-military funding for mathematics.”

At the society’s meeting last month in Salt Lake City, members were presented with three additional motions and decided to resolve all five in a mail ballot....

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