Behind the scenes at the HLF 2021

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The HLF 2021 vlog team!

A huge thank you to Tom Geller for his help with filming and to videographer Arthur Bauer for his filming, editing, direction and advice!

Over the years we've loved attending the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a special annual conference that brings winners of the biggest prizes in maths and computer science together with young researchers just starting out in their careers. The Forum is usually full of people buzzing with excitement, and is structured around maximising the opportunities for laureates and young researchers to interact, and everyone exchanging ideas and making connections.

The challenge of the global pandemic has meant this year's Forum was again virtual for most of the participants, but the HLF explored new ways for people to connect virtually. Highlights for young researchers were the chance to meet and talk with laureate in small groups, specially tailored discussion sessions after lectures and panels, scientific speed-networking, pub quizzes and a VR after party.

As always, we went along to talk to young researchers and laureates about their work and experiences, and this year we produced a daily video diary to take everyone behind the scenes of this special digital HLF.


Sunday, the day before the HLF officially began, we spoke to Halleluyah Aworinde, a young researcher from Nigeria, about his research in machine learning and his hopes for the Forum. We also spoke to some of the organisers and took a look behind the scenes of the digital HLF.


Over the past 18 months we have all shared a common experience: the COVID-19 pandemic. Sheetal Silal and Amrish Baidjoe spoke to us on Monday about their experience working as epidemiologists during the pandemic, and previewed their upcoming panel discussion on the mathematics of diseases. We also spoke to D'Jeff Kanda Nkashama, a young researcher from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about his work using machine learning to detect anomalies in industrial control systems.


On Tuesday, Whitfield Diffie, winner of the ACM A.M. Turing Award 2015, told us about the greatest challenge in modern cryptography and we asked him a question from young researcher, Halleluyah Aworinde: what inspired you and what did you do differently to be as successful as you are? We also talked to Marithania Silvero, a young researcher from Spain, about her research in knot theory. And Beate Spiegel, Managing Director of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, told us about the Foundation’s support for the HLF.


On Wednesday we were really pleased to talk to Donna Strickland, 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, and to Patrick M. Hanrahan, a 2019 ACM A.M. Turing Award recipient who also has won three academy awards! We asked Hanrahan a question from young researcher, Marithania Silvero: what role does creativity play in your work? We also got a chance to visit infinity, visited the VR world of the HLF, and talked to Ana-Andreea Stoica, a young research from Romania, about her work on social networks and models to understand them.


On Thursday, the last day of the Forum, we asked Scott Aaronson, winner of the ACM Prize in Computing 2020, about when quantum computing will change our lives. Ragni Piene told us about choosing Abel Prize winners, and we asked her a question from young researcher Ana-Andreea Stoica: have you had ideas that didn't work out, and what did you do then? Narinder Sing Punn, a young researcher from India, told us about his work using machine learning to understand biomedical images, and HLF alumna Constanza Rojas-Molina showed us her unexpected way of bringing the Forum to life!

You can find all our coverage from previous Heidelberg Laureate Forums here.

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