“The living arts of mathematics” Cédric Villani, 2010 Fields Medal Winner

Cédric Villani, the 2010 Fields Medal winner, was invited by the Academic Department of Mathematics to give a speech in Raúl Baillères Auditorium. Currently, he is a professor at the Université de Lyon I as well as the Director of the Institut Henri Poincarée.

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Professor Villani spoke of the connection between mathematics and art in his speech. He stressed that artists are currently utilizing mathematical concepts intensely that are far from trivial. He provided two examples: software used in architectural designs, as in the Louis Vuitton Foundation, and in cinematographic works like the film production of Gravity.

He then spoke about how mathematics had been of great use to make important discoveries in other fields. For example, he stated that Huygens and Galileo worked on complex calculations in order to improve the precision of the mechanical clock. Moreover, he indicated that mathematical tools made possible great contributions to statistics which led to great discoveries, for instance the Gaussian Function.

He then talked about his area of specialty, partial differential equations, as well as his research involving the Boltzmann equation and Landau damping for which he was awarded the Fields Medal.

Finally, he concluded the speech by stressing once again the relationship between art and mathematics and by emphasizing that, in his personal experience, people are not only interested in learning about the research results but also how the researcher “struggled” to make that discovery. In other words, not only are the conclusions important, but people also appreciate the challenges one had to face so that they can understand the new concept and its impact on our perception of the world.

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