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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Don't call me a prodigy: the rising stars of European mathematics | Sci-Tech

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"Scientists from 80 countries flocked to Berlin this week to attend the European Congress of Mathematics. One main takeaway: some of the continent's leading mathematicians are surprisingly young - and very down-to-earth." inform Helena Kaschel, Berlin.

Photo: Peter Scholze

Time is a precious resource for Peter Scholze (pictured above). Despite his constant lack of it, he's agreed to a short interview on the steps near the main auditorium at Berlin's Technical University. Scholze is polite, but you can tell he's more comfortable speaking to an audience of mathematicians than an audio recorder.

Since the 28-year-old became Germany's youngest professor at the age of 24 and the youngest ever Leibniz laureate at 27, both the academic and the media world have taken notice of him.

Now, five years on, the European Mathematical Society (EMS) has honored Scholze for his groundbreaking research in the field of arithmetic algebraic geometry. With two key lectures, he's one of the heavy weights at this year's European Congress of Mathematics, which saw 1,300 mathematicians from all around the world attend.

'I don't believe you always have to understand everything in mathematics'
"I can't even make mathematicians understand what I'm currently working on," Scholze laughs. After finishing his lecture on the opening day, he tells me, quite a few colleagues told him that they had given up trying to follow his trail of thought halfway through the lecture. Does this bother him? Scholze shrugs. "I don't believe you always have to understand everything in mathematics," he says.

"Gerd Faltings, the only German to have been awarded the Fields Medal, regularly holds a lecture on arithmetic geometry at Bonn University. I used to go there as a student and I would never understand anything. But in hindsight I feel like I learned so much during that time. There's this misconception that certain parts of lectures are pointless if you don't get it straight away."...

'There are just some things I would like to understand'
 It's Monday, the first day of the congress. Peter Scholze strides across the stage of the packed main auditorium, clutching a laser pointer, his dark curls tied back like a professional soccer player. He explains the connection between his recent findings and the 1968 Fontaine-Winterberger theorem.

Additional resources
Peter Scholze - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Peter Scholze and the Future of Arithmetic Geometry | Quanta Magazine

Source: Deutsche Welle