The HLF Portraits: Yakov G. Sinai
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The HLF Portraits: Yakov G. Sinai

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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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Release Date 
2019

Language 
English

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Subject Area 
00:00
Geometry
Point (geometry)
Statistical hypothesis testing
Dynamical system
Differential (mechanical device)
Decision theory
Multiplication sign
Student's ttest
Theory
Product (business)
Mathematics
Fluid
Matrix (mathematics)
Mathematician
Energy level
Quaternion
Selectivity (electronic)
Lie group
Physical system
Theory of relativity
Process (computing)
Right angle
Musical ensemble
Object (grammar)
Family
07:24
Point (geometry)
Computer programming
Group action
Observational study
Multiplication sign
Direction (geometry)
Orientation (vector space)
Student's ttest
Mereology
Rule of inference
Theory
2 (number)
Mathematics
Thermodynamisches System
Different (Kate Ryan album)
Energy level
Mathematician
Körper <Algebra>
Series (mathematics)
Position operator
Gradient
Staff (military)
Volume (thermodynamics)
Line (geometry)
Flow separation
Vector potential
Probability theory
Faculty (division)
Degree (graph theory)
Universe (mathematics)
Order (biology)
Right angle
Musical ensemble
Thetafunktion
Resultant
22:06
Point (geometry)
Statistical hypothesis testing
Entropy
Standard error
Group action
Multiplication sign
Direction (geometry)
Student's ttest
Mereology
Event horizon
Rule of inference
Fluid statics
Mathematics
Causality
Term (mathematics)
Different (Kate Ryan album)
Natural number
Mathematician
Körper <Algebra>
Position operator
Partition (number theory)
Descriptive statistics
Physical system
Social class
Process (computing)
Theory of relativity
Weight
Physicalism
Numerical analysis
Faculty (division)
Connected space
Tower
Universe (mathematics)
Order (biology)
Right angle
Family
Resultant
Relief
37:12
Randomization
Dynamical system
Process (computing)
E (mathematical constant)
Multiplication sign
Direction (geometry)
Random walk
Mathematical physics
Student's ttest
Brownian motion
Numerical analysis
Theory
Probability theory
Mathematics
Term (mathematics)
Different (Kate Ryan album)
Ideal (ethics)
Mathematician
Series (mathematics)
Körper <Algebra>
Extension (kinesiology)
Resultant
Social class
44:48
Topological vector space
00:00
[Music]
00:08
you professor I'd like to begin at the beginning I want to imagine you 10 8 10 can you tell me something about your family where you are and a little bit about your parents No ok ok so let's start with my parents so I had my mother but she died when I was 3 years old so yeah she was you know solid Geist is correct word and she works on the biology of encephalitis why when Moscow know she was in Moscow yeah and she was somehow infected by all this vaccines of vaccines related to encephalitis such cells she died when I was 3 years old your well and your father that let's talk to my father my father was microbiologist and he was professor of the Institute of Medicine in Moscow and though she was a professor there so she just died in 1952 well and it was it she just remarried and I lived being of time my much of time with my stepmother who was also a scientist yes she was not only scientists who was the head oh she was also in medicine and also Watson the theory of encephalitis and she was a head of big laboratory in Moscow there was such an institute which was called V M it means all a Union Institute of experimental medicine and she was the head of laboratory I'm gonna say this in a funny way but you were kind of Prince of science I mean you had a family immersed in science at a very high level yeah it's not the end oh wait oh yeah so but so my father died when I when I was 17 years old because of some illness oh yeah yeah then I was I had also a grandfather my grandfather was a remarkable mathematician professor of Moscow University and she has many books on mathematics and geometry everything so if you go to Moscow State University you will find his fortress lair so did he invite you I mean I assume he did but did you have much contact with him no it was one family but about context is difficult question I shall tell you one story at least when I was something like 14 years old something like this my father decided that he must teach me mathematics and he gave me a lecture you don't know mathematical terminology well many of your viewers will know it so so on quadrillions Rotarians is some object very well known in mathematics so she gave me that one hour lecture about quaternions rather than said you never will be a mathematician yes so he was not good product she was a big school of mathematician differential generality he had his own points of view suggest I tell you the true stories after that he never just just do any mathematics with me so somebody along the way and I'm guessing saw that you were at a decision how long did it take for somebody to recognize ya I had one brother she died last year he was also the son of my mother and he was very famous person in nonlinear dynamics fluid dynamics relativity theory he was professor of thus and also in Moscow State University da and he was a main person who just believed that I must go domicile in mathematics and the story was the following that my father was in biology so he didn't understand anything in letter matrix right and then when this question about my education just erroneous she said that I must go to the Institute of biology or maybe some other kind of the issue because definitely it will be easier for me to find a job after I just finished which a good father should work for ISA yes that's what you want yeah but he actually my father died when I was 17 years old Salah she did not know anything about my education my future told a lie but I don't know of course the Soviet system but first of all there's a selection for a kind of academic high school presume yeah for Kadima Korea and you you clearly passed the test yes you were in a high school that specialized in silence Italia was not very successful okay no I I can tell you all the details so I already mentioned to use it my grandfather was a professor of Moscow University so there was a first exam in Moscow University which I failed it was not accepted but then my grandfather just better to say she's just students or colleagues went to see the president
07:25
of Moscow University and they told him that independently of the results of my exam I must be accepted to the university because of my father your grandfather mother yeah and the word in the world after that I was accepted it became a student of Moscow University which I saw was the best it was the best university and certain it was a dream of all people to be students of the right well tell me again in the course of a university education at Moscow's stay did you have to choose a specialty at the beginning of your education or did you countess to find one that was the story was just a following in the university there were different chairs understand one desmos chairs where professor prepared student in different fields and student can use the chair you can select the chair zulan selects students alike all via data they became students and start start to attend lecture courses well said and then there are just studies after great studies with just what happened to assist people after they graduate from the University and this is certainly a different story so which chair did you select so when I was undergraduate student I was my advisor was come Agoura know his name I know because I've read about your life yes so just I and therefore I decided to become a student of the probability chair where Kumar Gaurav was the head and therefore I became a student in probability theory how prepared were you know there were some textbooks which I started but not much than that so really your deep mathematical education began with him please come on work yes yeah and even some much later okay if you're an undergraduate when you you get to work with him yes I'm guessing he saw your potential again you're making a mistake okay please correct the mistake is the staff all the students must write some text for the environment and then I wrote some text related to what I was doing in bharata tacoma Guara yes come back workers who looked at this it said now you can see that you can compete with my other students okay it music it was nothing like the very best yes yes but you were capable just I don't know nobody told me this at that time now would you say nobody told later when I speak to many of the laureates there was somebody who encouraged and others who just have in their own head the idea that they would do it it sounds maybe a little bit with you that you were in your own head knowing you could do this that it's nothing exactly what you said they were certainly just some fuels some part of mathematics which I liked yeah and there were some fuels which I did not like okay and so just if I like something I worked on this more than you followed your curiosity yes way do you graduate from undergraduate with others again nothing exactly yeah we see a pattern so the enemy what not exactly so just there was example in Moscow students so all still had to have the exam on social scientific like the history of the party okay if there was a rule for this example that there was just some professor in the side history of the party something and there was someone from mathematics who just also participated in this exam in my case is that as a person was kamek world and so when was this exam I figured I didn't learn it well enough there were several stories for example they asked me about some quotation from the alien and I just said only one phrase which I could say that I don't know details but I remember that Lena has know that someone had anti Linnean positions and this wasn't enough for them so I this exam but then in our house in our partner my wife found the collection of volumes of linen linen papers and we found some text related to the speech of this person which I was asked yes and it was written said that this person took aunty linen position but the details of his speech were lost so comic wore off went to the head of the chair of history of the party and asked them to give me one more possibility to have this exam McWhorter was a great scientist yes and so and this professor was a young nice woman so she did not suggest so she certainly agree and it was also very funny story you will laugh alone so it was maybe the second half of September some technologies in Moscow at that time it's order rather cold and then I was
14:45
studying all just parts of this story from just so story about communist party and at the same time I'm just trying to see a little bit TV the program in TV set right there was just a following fantastic story the person who was just leading this concert said that people in Moscow very accurate people and it is clear that I already prepared to call the weather in some of them cuz they're far cold warm clothes and all this and so no just we stop our program and the person who will come to the Moscow University they are always taken we receive the warmest clothes it's all the concept container then after 1015 minutes huge crowd of people in fur coat in world 6 just entered Moscow University and therefore everything was stopped and this was just very nice story so I was studying my history of my communist party during this concert but nevertheless I just learned something from it you know next day or next two days I went for the exams and then I passed it was not the best grade but otherwise you got through yeah I did agree that does that meant you were gonna get your degree no no I gradient student I see yeah I see I see I I'm talking to somebody who is about who's one day going to be a worldclass mathematician so I need to get him from this situation into a doctoral study or graduate study how did this fellow who's pretty lucky but doing his hard work Hans he qualified for graduate work this is just more or less traditional it's there are not much things we X so just people who work on some field and then sometimes they write they just fessed papers for publications in dr. Z they write theta SS right this becomes a dissertation usually it is just normal dissertation so they fail they pass and this is a interpreted studies of you what happened to you to do a paper that already showed your direction are you at this point an original mathematician yet now this is just again not so simple just as I mentioned to you and Jess I was a student of Kimagure and Kumar Gaurav give to his student problems to solve it and I worked together with some friends and Kamakura visa our problem and we solved it and we sent it for publication sent it was published in Giorno and after that the paper became just rather wellknown and so it's now probably it is 60 or 70 years old but even now there are some references to newspaper so your your talent is becoming obvious with your abilities and mathematics because in every life you know career bills or doesn't bill you get to the next stage or you don't and you sometimes earlier through intervention but nevertheless now presumably you're going to be involved in a faculty and a high level of mathematics but yet not this well it's not straight line but you can tell me the life even if it's zigzag I want to know how the next stage happened no just so often just people were accepted for greatest as status they supposed to have several exams and there were three exams and I had only some problems with a example on just theory of the party but with other just parts I did not have any problems the real mathematical mathematics it was foreign language yeah and don't remember that I had some well I will it wasn't something created outstanding for something whether it was not but it allows you to go forward yeah and it was rather simple I've spoken in this series of interviews to maybe five or six people who were educated in the Soviet mathematical us style and I remember some of them speaking of a very great difference between the kind of mathematical education and inquiry in Moscow and in Leningrad do you remember that the Moscow school they approached had a distinctive orientation no I don't agree with this and even have opposite point of view yes so I work in some field and Leningrad University has a big group of mathematicians and seminars working in this field ah and there was interval time when people from both places used to come to another place to give talks okay so I cannot say that Moscow mathematics was much better than just Linden grass also you need to say better they said different styles of questions asked you know that was possible yeah so in choosing just because it's a big life and we want through through your important life at some point you have to make a
22:06
dissertation presumably in the Graduate faculty how do you choose what direction to go for the dissertation so at that time there was just remarkable event which has happened I don't tell you just that details much much detail but I want to say that comic warith made a great discovery in the field in which I worked and so after that I decided that I shall work in this field and my dissertation was consist of results and just directed to this field it's a field that probability policy the context it is a few in erotic seriousness in fact soon I think soon after this your name becomes associated with his name who is nasedo Micawber yes yeah what was that principal but this is another story the story was a falling yet so comic world made his discovery yes and just went to Paris where he spent maybe half a year and returned back to Moscow and then another mathematician found a gap in comic works paper crown and this gap could not be just removed by small just steps it needed much more effort and since I started to work in this field I started to work on a challenge to improve to change this field as this error right and this is what I did and therefore that appears with the word entropy of the comic Watterson I this problem you had this because first discovery was done by comic wall over that I some crowd I made a small test the connection okay what age are you at the point is at this point your name begins to be known if you feel no not so quickly but so we took some time but you you get a position at the university because you go the faculty from from graduate work no again it was me so it's your story I was just after that there were just a couple of years when I was Moscow State University but I did not have a position of full professor okay I was teaching cause debt and at that time I already liked physics and I decided to go to the physics Institute and I became a professor of physics in this institute of physics but the president of Moscow University at the time was Petrovsky we have quite sure that your health his name so and Petrovski just insisted that I have some position in the university so I just became half professor in Moscow University joy join boiling point maintainer and also in London Institute again we understand you're speaking to alignment but what is your developing at this point what are the problems that are interesting in Genesis since there was already the process of big burrows of entropy I worked most of the time on the theory of entropy and did you make a major contribution to that field no I mean I wouldn't say major but big contribution yes now I'm going to ask I must repeat this message it's not interesting to you the political situation of the time as it affected a professor I know early on you had a past the political exacting you you told us about that process but as a professor are you affected at all by the political situation and for the first time I bring this in being Jewish because a lot of your colleagues that I've spoken to were affected yeah simply because they were Jewish was this too in New York in your life at all yes so this also had some influence in my life okay then the influence was a following that I mentioned to use it I was just I had some position in Moscow University but it wasn't professor position I could teach there but I did not have just four position there and then when was it it I think it was maybe in beginning of the 50 and only in the beginning of the 70 or 80 we can find it in the other one I became full professor and what was the what happened to allow that because that I was party did you hear about the letter of hundred mathematician but I see what family did ya no no just you can find the history so there were handed or maybe warden harvess partition who signed the letter of support for anonymous Matty SHINee's in involvement and I was among them that was a dangerous thing to do and then people who did this could not just any just any just corresponding scientific just position so that there were people who signed us were punished punished having done it but this is not necessarily ethnic prejudices because you supported dissidents yeah but in the group of people who scientist letters a majority where Jews ha so this was noticed 70 so how did this affect for example because I know now having spoken to so many mathematicians so be that otherwise that
29:42
it's so important to be involved in conferences to encounter mathematicians elsewhere your travels restricted yes Jack Tony is everybody else not so many people could travel and I started to travel when was it maybe it was already in the ages accounting classes some of your colleagues and mathematics moved and the first opportunity after the end of the Soviet Union outside not always to the United States to France many places you stayed and not just simply go to other places a little bit later well in the 90s but I am that I'm not saying that there's one time that's right to go or not to go but I'm assuming that you felt able to pursue intellectual work while remaining there that it was not necessary to leave in order to do the work you wanted to do I'm very sorry but again I should not take it easy young III ask only to find out yeah go I don't have one position please tell me so just there was just a following story so in Moscow our just in our family was my wife and my son but also the wife of another mother of my wife was some no lived with us yes yeah and so we couldn't go away from Moscow when some of our relatives we're there without images substantial support right and we waited until they died they died in 91 and after net we moved the prairies yes that we make sense to Princeton staying there again it's a question not a statement for me after the changes I assume your ability to contact the outside world to be in mathematical exchanges was much easier yeah there were many more conferences in which I could participate and there was no issue about whether you could travel at this point no you see just I must tell you big number of details yes so there was Landau Institute of statical physics I don't know did you hear about it yes and I know you're still associated at least it was the best Institute in the Soviet Union yes the director of this Institute professor Hal I think of who was a student of Landau was great honest person and he organized the system so that there was a following that every member of the Institute during one year could spend one week at a conference in 12 months it's a mother Institute ah a rather world around somewhat so this is well this is a description how the system worked well now I'm going to ask the other side of the question about why did you wait so long to leave why did you leave at all no best relief tower relieved after the things that we did not have any relatives I understand what that I kept you there but if you were now able to be at such an important Institute able to travel even require to in a way as part of your mathematical development why the Moscow you're at a great I just explained to you we could not leave Moscow before we can Trello is why leave at all it's what I'm asking what was electrically practically a Russian mathematician left I wonder why there were as many yes many answers to this question first of all I mentioned to use it at that time there was Communist Party which still exists and everything what was done there was done after the ruling of Communist Party right without its permission right people couldn't go yeah in earlier years within the 90s also children cause he left no maybe not exactly the 90 but at the end of the ages it was also so it was still restrictions yes I see okay um you came when you got it when you left Moscow you came here to Princeton I think yes yes what kind of department was it in terms of the questions that interested you what what particularly appeals you about the Princeton faculty and math or death it's very easy question hmm first of all I know many scientists here okay there's various types of context so just I knew in advance what I shall work what I shall work when I come here even to his home I can work so for me this transition from Moscow to Princeton was so dramatic right right it was mostly the nature colleagues and yet it is just this situation which happens with many people it's quite science literature students of that again a big question if it interests you if now we go on and that is what you came here and here you are in terms of the way mathematics is taught were you seeing differences in the American system and the system that had produced you now there is some difference it's not exactly the same but there was a less it is easier to be adjusted to it so the differences are not we're not significant no I shall tell you the story please I you probably know what that it means the number II in mathematics you'll know this yeah you know yeah yeah you also know that so just I just give lecture course and then I just noticed that one
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girl she was a student does not know what does it mean the number E is just a central number it without eatest mathematics doesn't exist and I started to ask you how did it happen that you know what that means he or she said it's very easy last year we study the number E and professor used to come to our class every week and explain and and and explained what does it mean the number E and at that time we knew what is the number E but now nobody comes to our class so we don't know what is number E this is not every story if it's not what not a happy story in terms of intellectual development this is rather funny she certainly just after some time she lenses but it's something what could not happen Russia for example day until Europe most right having moved president what is the principal direction of your work no I just worked again continued to work in the theory of dynamical systems and then and just probability theory yes aquatic Syria mathematical physics maybe this is also your work in time becomes connected to the awards you've received many awards but for example the oil price was it given for what insight not just and don't understand your question I've been prize is given to different people each year yeah so just but you received one that I receive as I achieve something to receive it the auto price is not given to people on the street that's for distinguished work yes certainly this has true but that time some number of results so try it was business to other deserve I know what particular insight was cited no this is to technical questions and where some of your audience who are mathematicians who but it's up to you well it's an interesting and to talk about that's fine I'm interested in the extent to which you enjoy and even feel necessary you will end is the question of you as a teacher this we're not going mmhmm so I have talked to some mathematicians in this series who enjoy the isolation of being in to having no students just being allowed to think that was their preference no it's not my kid it's not your case okay looks like how do you have many fingers do I have just big salmon on storage many students come and what is the interchange in terms of the development of your work is it work that is helped by being a teacher of the students is it quite separate the work that you do yourself from the kinds of problems your students do I'm just interested in the intellectual exchange now there was no exchange it was some kind of process how everything worked then where there was a seminar there were students which attended to the seminar and each student worked on his or her problems which were discussed as a seminar so there was no competition no isolation so it was some kind of common work okay I'm also interested again tell me if any interest you as well the ideal outside of mathematics is that mathematics particularly values and assumes that many insights come to the young woman the young mathematician in many other fields the assumption is it's not four years in the field before people develop the salient insights that develop their reputation do you think this is true that there is a peak time of inquiry I mean the field metal is always referred to as odd in the broad of a world of intellectual work because it has to cut off at 40 in my field in history the idea of cutting off at 40 for a great crisis unthinkable so what do you think about that the idea of when when insight comes most easily to the map I don't I don't agree with what you are saying because there are so many seminars so many contacts and people have so many possibilities to just find new ideas new fuse for we can't like over all your work or you have done 200 the articles you so much so obviously we can't really know but probably it's not required for you to yes because as I say young mathematicians will be interested in this but we can't do it all the time but there are certain premises theories that are associated with your name not just the earlier one when when it was a joint name something called like thank you you've got a bright for example the synthesized random walk just as an instance of the kinds of insights you have happened can you talk a little bit about that the centum yes I can and that would laugh but so no what does it mean Brownian motion I don't but no okay so I had motherinlaw and in now just apartments there were many books and there was book which was called random series and she said in her opinion random series when the soldiers go in different item in different there so then the work it is just something like this it's just where when subsea goes in various directions with different speed that and so he worked this out in mathematical terms this yeah this phenomenon yes thank you very much
45:02
you