ICM

We were lucky enough to interview Stas Smirnov at the ICM in Hyderabad, India. As well as being very pleased at winning the Fields Medal and being recognised by his colleagues, Stas reminded us that mathematicians don't do research to win medals. They do it because of curiosity and he personally can't wait to get back to his theorems.

We're at the massive conference dinner, talking to Alex Bellos, author of best-selling popular maths book Alex's adventures in numberland, mathematician Colva Roney-Dougal,  other delegates and ourselves.

What would you think if the nice café latte in your cup suddenly separated itself out into one half containing just milk and the other containing just coffee? Probably that you, or the world, have just gone crazy. There is, perhaps, a theoretical chance that after stirring the coffee all the swirling atoms in your cup just happen to find themselves in the right place for this to occur, but this chance is astronomically small.

The work of Fields Medallist Stanislav Smirnov will take mathematics and physics into a new phase with his mathematical proof of the understanding of phase transitions.

Eron Lindenstrauss got the Fields Medal for developing tools in the area of dynamical systems and using them to crack hard problems in the seemingly unrelated area of number theory.

Results in mathematics come in several flavours — theorems are the big important results, conjectures will be important results one day when they are proved, and lemmas are small results that are just stepping stones on the way to the big stuff. Right? Then why has the Fields medal just been awarded to Ngô Bào Châu for his proof of a lemma?

Statistics can mislead, and who'd know this better than mathematicians? It's ironic, then, that mathematics itself has fallen victim to the seductive lure of crude numbers. Mathematicians' work is being measured, ranked and judged on the basis of a single measurement: the
number of times research papers are cited by others. And mathematicians are not happy about it.

Why do people become mathematicians? What's it like being one and what are the perks of a job in academia? We talk to young mathematicians at the International Congress of Mathematicians, as well as to established research mathematician Larry Guth to find out.

Why do people become mathematicians? What's it like being one and what are the perks of a job in academia? We talk to young mathematicians at the International Congress of Mathematicians, as well as to established research mathematician Larry Guth, to find out.

What's the point of the Fields Medal and other maths prizes? Who decides who gets one? And when will we have the first female medallist? Rachel talks to László Lovász, current president of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), Martin Grötschel, the IMU's secretary, and Ragni Piene, the new chair of the Abel Prize committee about all this and more.

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