6th HLF – Interviews with mathematics and computer science laureates: Gerd Faltings
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6th HLF – Interviews with mathematics and computer science laureates: Gerd Faltings

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No Open Access License:
German copyright law applies. This film may be used for your own use but it may not be distributed via the internet or passed on to external parties. 
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Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation

Release Date 
2018

Language 
English

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Abstract 
Laureates at the 6th HLF sit down with Tom Geller, Tom Geller Productions, to discuss their career, mentoring and their experience at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF). These renowned scientists have been honored with most prestigious awards in mathematics and computer science: Abel Prize, ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize in Computing, Fields Medal and Nevanlinna Prize. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation or any other person or associated institution involved in the making and distribution of the video. Background: The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) annually organizes the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF), which is a networking event for mathematicians and computer scientists from all over the world. The HLFF was established and is funded by the German foundation the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), which promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. The HLF is strongly supported by the awardgranting institutions, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM: ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize in Computing), the International Mathematical Union (IMU: Fields Medal, Nevanlinna Prize), and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA: Abel Prize). The Scientific Partners of the HLFF are the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) and Heidelberg University.

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if you could summarize what was your work that brought you the most
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recognition the the most technician I got for the proof of the model conjecture this was in 83 and I preferred very much my teacher now started the French bo in Paris and yet some ideas which I guess wasn't one taken too serious by the other people in Paris and I learned from him and then it turned out that the work for me no it's maybe the faultless over that didn't count and so this may be an obvious question but why do you keep coming back well I thought as a job I shouldn't boycott it and on the other hand I don't want to come each time so maybe I try to come each second time well I get from it I meet some people and well and I also get to learn other important people especially in computer science and so which I don't know about now I'm going to go back a little bit and ask you about your own history and and about mentors who you knew and papers you may have read and such what got you involved in your area well I lied to teach help of us and a start and he did convinced I did commutative algebra which wasn't very fashionable at the time and people like more to do I drew my geometry and so I also tried to develop in chargeback geometry and then I'm it's pijo and then I got into number theory and while I proved more area conjecture and after this was never sever open question which sort of had been settled our talk and that is the more systematic theory and so it provided rework for quite some time now the way you present that it sounds like it was a very direct path but I assume that there are difficulties along the way well I guess you tend to forget about the difficulties and the reason that I bring up the possible difficulties is I'd like to know sort of how you faced any any difficulties in reaching your goals well I mean when I started to work on the problem I didn't figure that I could solve it but I thought some interesting mathematics might come out and this I think should be the criterion that it it's something interesting so how did you keep your energy you know when when things were not so obvious what I guess you have to in some sense you have to be an optimist that each time I mean usually if you try a project more things fail and then you have to tie in you and you have new hopes and so so maybe you are it's good to have illusions and not to be too realistic that's all your teachers and other mentors was there a particular style of teaching that you responded well to or of mentorship well I guess I'll just city that he let me do what I wanted to do but I didn't I mean he didn't worry didn't prescribe but what I was supposed to do and that thing this was good with me and now of course you be an elder statesman so to speak you're you're a mentor to many other people how do you approach that well I usually these times if you want to get a PhD usually there's this it's graduate schools which means that sort of people are supposed to finish in three to four years and sort of the PhD advisors some are supposed to make sure of this and so I try to figure out a problem which is doable but which is not so central that other people might work on it and this icing is the hardest part and then I give it to the student and then I tell them I mean I don't solve it completely but I have the idea that something can be done until I tell it to him and then usually that's a different and I figured out but most of the time this works now here at the HLF of course you're only seeing students for for a week or so to approach things differently here or what would what do you tell people what do you talk with people about no I just can tell them what my example is and I'm not true of it uh I should give them advice what to do because each person is different and what works for me might not work for us have any of the researchers other this HLF or at previous ones have any of them surprised you with with interesting questions or or insights sometimes people surprise me but usually I mean if you talk about the new topics and people can't sort of tell much about it because I first have to learn it it's similar people ask me for advice about something they have thought about and it usually might know much more about the subject and so I feel bad because I can just tell them that they already know what do you hope that they take away from you oh I don't know what I give to other people not very much I mean I can only tell them that I mean I'm human like they aren't so I also have to struggle he mentioned be an example I suppose of success I guess I am but I don't I mean I can't really say why I have been successful it may be locked it may be hard work it may have been at the right time until I placed but I constantly say I mean I cannot restart history and try again speaking of history the world they're facing is different I assume from the world you know it's in your field how do you think things are different now I think the main difference is that many more mathematicians and also and when new fields I mean in some sense it's the old things that we found interesting he proved what we could prove and then we are left with the one which we couldn't prove and usually I think often these things are not proof but people yet have different interesting go to something you whether I can make progress so I guess it's the old it's a fate of all people to to be left out to be left on the course and I see well speaking of which what do you think of the most interesting problems today in your field oh the most interesting in my period of course there's big problems every minor potus's but this is notoriously difficult I mean the one famous problem is about in that entire conjecture but I mean all these things and until the difficult and I'm thinking about simpler things most elliptic curves and so on but I mean I cannot tell people what's a good problem because if I have a good problem I work on it myself and then usually either works or it doesn't work and then if I give it to somebody else but I can't do and I would feel better now you say you work on it yourself and I've noticed from talking with Laureus that they tend to be those who are collaborative and those were more lone wolves so to speak I think I'm off and on what we do have any comment on sort of the different ways of working why why you are that way perhaps I guess it's my personality I'm not such a social person like others but for me it works fine but it may be fathers it may not work I imagine that actually affects the way that you that you teach people and are taught by people well I mean I usually take a topic which I know about and then I try to I mean to explain it and what's known and what can be done well but I don't know what's our difference should you teach people forum
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has been going now for six years was there what has changed in the last six years in your field my field well that has been some progress and the rest is the same so I can't say that there's been evolution or something is there anything on the horizon that you think is exciting for the next 510 years know what's what's exciting you only know and five for ten years I mean things you have hopes for don't work and other things you didn't think about some some walk suddenly come on the scene it's an interesting response well the saying is it's difficult to talk about the future we're talking about the HLF since you've been to so many of them have you seen a change in the way that these are run or the researchers themselves and the researchers not really I think they started with the format and some things weren't like for example II I gave a concert I think in the first one and people didn't like this which is not my taste but okay but since then I think it has pretty stabilized and but the researchers haven't changed much in your opinion no I mean there are these nerdy types is there anything in particular you looking forward to it at this event no I just see what happen there anything else you'd like to add no I mean it's what I should say and I come to this thing because I think the trio Foundation is one of the few foundations they give money to a science and mathematics especially so I think I should support this well thank you I appreciate you taking the time no it's okay
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you