Thursday, March 28, 2024

Q&A With Mathematician Claire Voisin

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Maths, Mathematics Education, History of Science, Miscellaneous

Ed Hessler

In this interview with Quanta Magazine's Jordana Cepelewicz, the 2024 Crafoord Prize in Mathematics recipient Claire Voisin discusses maths as art, as language, and as abstract thought. She is the first woman to receive the Crafoord Prize in Mathematics. Link to the Wiki entry on Claire Voisin.

After introductory comments Cepelewicz and Voisin discussed these topics.

--You enjoyed math as a child, but didn’t see yourself pursuing it. Why not?

--Before you found that in math, where did you look for it?

--What made you decide to devote most of your creative energy to math in the end?

--You’ve written before about how math is a creative endeavor.

--It sounds like math is deeply personal for you. Have you discovered anything about yourself in the process?

--You work with very abstract objects — with high-dimensional spaces, with structures that satisfy complicated equations. How do you think about such an abstract world?

--And this also requires seeing them from different viewpoints?

--It’s interesting that you think of these as different mathematical languages.

--You were drawn to math because of Grothendieck’s revolution in algebraic geometry. He essentially created a new language for doing this kind of mathematics.

--Are there ways in which the mathematical language you’re using now might still need to change?

--Have you had to introduce new definitions in your work?

--Definitions and language aren’t the only guiding forces in mathematics. So are conjectures, which might or might not be true. For instance, you’ve done a lot of work on the Hodge conjecture, a Clay millennium problem whose solution comes with a $1 million reward.

--So mathematicians aren’t sure if the Hodge conjecture will end up being true or false?

--After decades working as a mathematician, do you feel like you’re doing math even more deeply now?

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