Anticipating the Ramanujan biopic

April 19, 2015

Earlier this month, the TFI SLOAN Filmmaker fund announced its grantees for 2015, and the Srinivasa Ramanujan biopic The Man Who Knew Infinity, now in post-production, is among them.

That’s definitely a movie that could be inspiring indeed, given that Ken Ono has been very much involved in the project and the cast is full of competent actors, as mentionned in Adriana Salerno’s earlier informative blog post.

So its release will probably be a good opportunity to set up public conferences on related topics, or at least get prepared for some questions.

The wikipedia article seems to have a fairly comprehensive compilation of references that could be useful in this regard, including :

A mix of links

April 14, 2015

A mix of recently spotted things:

  • the program of the next Bourbaki seminar (at the end of june) looks very interesting indeed (in particular, I also noticed that Peter Keevash released a new preprint recently, while Sophie Morel is currently an Aisenstadt Chair in CRM)
  • a new video of Alain Connes discussing the emergence of time in quantum mechanics, published today on the youtube channel of IHÉS
  • the conference on Shinichi Mochizuki’s IUT theory, previously mentionned on this blog, will feature lots of people including Paul Vojta and Peter Sholze
  • it is announced in the march newsletter of the EMS that the next 10 prizes for European mathematicians under 35 will be awarded for work accepted for publication before october 31, 2015
  • the amount of french math students that compete each year to get an Agrégation de Mathématiques has again dropped in 2015, and has declined by a staggering 60% in the past 8 years tweeted the President of the Agrégation Jury (as a result, the past few years have seen hundreds of unfilled positions, and this year will be no different)
  • a recent addition in Gallica : the 1630 translation in french of François Viète’s Algèbre Nouvelle by Vasset, with in particular an illustration of the Problem of Apollonius on the frontispice


The Tombstone of Madame du Châtelet (1706-1749)

April 5, 2015

In 2006, to mark the tricentenary of the birth of first ever frenchwoman scientist, Émilie Du Châtelet, an exhibition was organized in Paris by Elizabeth Badinter (booklet here).

Then, a few years ago, several newly found mathematics and physics manuscripts written by la Marquise du Châtelet were sold at an important Christie’s sale.

What about the final resting place of such a fine woman? Well, it is a very sober black tombstone in Saint-Jacques church, in Lunéville. Elisabeth Badinter, and Annie Jourdain, tried to have something done so that it is not walked over by the faithfull, but there were no protective barriers when I visited a few days ago.

By the way, the Château de Lunéville, which sadly was ravaged by a fire in 2003, has been nicely restaured over a decade, and is well worth a visit. I went there early enough to catch a nice april cold fog.

(full album on flickr)

Fraud with a watch

April 4, 2015

In my former life, when I was a teacher (and like most teachers of course), I caught many times some high-schoolers cheating. Needless to say, those weren’t the brightest of the class, and were easy to spot even with smartphones involved.

On the other hand, one would expect students preparing Agrégation de Mathématiques, the most selective exam to become math teacher in France, to have at least some amount of morals. After all, they will become the very teachers meant to prevent their pupils frauding.

Counterexample: a few weeks ago one of the candidates has been caught cheating with a watch connected to the internet in which some pdf files had been stored…

The president of the jury banned that candidate, and issued a formal statement reminding the others that such frauds are legal offences, and that at the oral part of the exam next june the jury will be very vigilent towards fraud involving “stylos-caméra, montres Internet, téléphone, fibres spéciales, etc.“.

Cédric Villani’s book tour (cont’d), and a remarkable student

April 2, 2015

After his UK tour, Cédric Villani will apparently later this month tour the US  (incidentally, it is mathematics awareness month there).

I’ve noticed events occuring in New York City (15th), Seattle (16th), San Francisco (20th), Minneapolis (22nd), Cambridge MA (24th), and perhaps at other places.

While searching for these I came accross a remarkable interview (published today) of Thomas Mordant, a very young and talented french student (4 years ahead of normal age), who happens to have Osteogenesis Imperfecta, has met Villani, and plans to become a mathematician.

Bon courage à lui pour les prochaines épreuves de Normale Sup!

That £2.3 million grant (and a new Mochizuki conference)

April 1, 2015

It has recently been unveiled that a team of mathematicians from Oxford, Nottingham, IMPU Japan and NYU have been awarded a massive £2.3m grant from EPSRC for their project ‘Symmetries and Correspondences’.

Three conferences, supported by the Clay Mathematics Institute, have already been announced, including one which will feature Langlands and Wiles (among many others), and one “on the theory of Shinichi Mochizuki” planned for december 2015 in Oxford.

Szilassi Polyhedron  by Alejandro Erickson on flickr

Some lectures

March 28, 2015

Some things spotted recently:

pressing_poincare(Picture in the Public Domain)

The most expensive french integer is 1

March 15, 2015

The first ever domain name was recorded in 1985 (see this very nice infographics for a timeline from then to 2015).

Until recently, the historical TLDs (whether gTLDs like .com .org .net, or ccTLDs like .fr did not offer single character names : most single characters names of gTLDs were reserved in 1993 by IANA, and all 1 & 2 characters names of ccTLDs were too by their respective operators.

But in 2008 ICANN initiated a program to allow new TLDs, and 1930 applications met a 2011 deadline, which resulted in the approval of several hunded ones.

This meant that new money was about to pour in from investors vying for marketable names, especially short ones.  Perhaps as a result, in october 2009 single-characters names of .de  were made available, and snapped-up.

The period 2014-2015 sees many of the aforementioned new TLDs start selling domains in the usual three phases (sunrise, landrush, public), and some of them (a minority thought) are allowing single-characters names.

With the renewed interest in domain names, in 2014 the .fr operator afnic opened a similar procedure to sell 1 and 2 character names (with proceeds going to some public funds to reduce inequalities in France).  Afnic decided to price the 4 weeks of the landrush phase in a degressive manner : the first week each domain cost 15,000€ excluding VAT, the second they cost 10,000€, the third they were set at 5,000€, and the final week at 100€ (the next phae being at the public price, a few euros).  Of course, most people buy their domain name through a registrar, which means some extra costs.

I was obviously interested in buying a number like or name like and set my sight on the last week of landrush, which opened march, 9 at 12:00 Paris time.  The only number to have gone in a previous week was, for 5,000€, making it the most expensive french number.

When the moment arrived,  I was all set, and made my first order at 12:00:05. Already bought! Wow, tried several other numbers, all already gone!  Some controversy quickly erupted on twitter, with several users noticing that some registrars (specialized in the resale of domain names) had placed orders up to a full 30 minutes before the deadline.  Not fair indeed, and to the credit of Afnic these orders were swiftly canceled with the 311 corresponding names back for sale on the wednesday (and the culprits blacklisted)…only for other similar registars to buy them all within a few seconds after the start time. Lots of ordinary people interested in simply getting their initials or a number got disapointed.

So, except for, all domains from to will have their price set up on the secondary market, but I doubt they’ll top :-)

Forthcoming epijournals

March 7, 2015

Six months ago, I was wondering whether epijournals might be just around the corner, when in restrospect that wasn’t the case…

But very recently, the website has listed the titles (and titles only for now) of three new journals, among which two seem to focus on mathematics : the Hardy-Ramanujan Journal, and Mathematica Universalis.

Obviously several people are hard at work on this, and probably doing things very carefully to ensure a smooth launch.

Flower 6.6.6 Work in progress, by Ella T. on flickr,

whose great gallery is not to be missed !

Girard’s Transcendental Syntax

March 1, 2015

Jean-Yves Girard has recently put online his two papers on Transcendental Syntax.   As of early march 2015, part I is now said to be in final state while part II is still a blueprint (“This part is so new, the notions are so fresh, that can hardly be more than a blueprint; I am not yet familiar with the notions introduced, which may account for the sloppiness of notations. Hence the inclusion of this section in annex. I beg for the leniency of the reader in view of the absolute novelty of the ideas.“)

The aim is apprently a “fully independent approach to logic: no syntax, no semantics, i.e., no prejudice.

As usual with Girard, the papers introduce new terminology that probably requires a fair amount of time to grasp, but at the same time are written in appealing semi-discursive style, with motivations fully apparent.



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