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HLF Blogs: Why you’re already an algebraic geometer

This week, Katie and Paul are blogging from the Heidelberg Laureate Forum – a week-long maths conference where current young researchers in maths and computer science can meet and hear talks by top-level prize-winning researchers. For more information about the HLF, visit the Heidelberg Laureate Forum website.

The HLF included a talk from 2018 Fields medalist Caucher Birkar. His subject area, algebraic geometry, is one of the largest fields of research within pure mathematics (over a quarter of the 60 Fields medals awarded since 1936 have been to people working in algebraic geometry), and it has connections to many other fields of maths including topology, algebra and number theory. But what exactly is algebraic geometry? Well, if you’ve studied maths at school, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already done some.

Caucher Birkar becomes first person ever to receive the Fields Medal twice

You may know from our recent foray into breaking news that the Fields Medal awarded to Caucher Birkar was stolen, minutes after it was awarded. It turns out the International Mathematical Committee (IMU) had a spare medal in Rio for display purposes, and they decided to award it to Birkar as a replacement.

Birkar is quoted as joking “I’m much more famous than I would be,” in reference to the increased media attention following the theft. Being the first person in the world to ever receive the Fields Medal twice certainly makes him a good answer to a trivia question at your next maths-themed pub quiz.

A post from the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) tries to play down the incident. ICM Chairman Marcelo Viana called it a “regretful incident with a happy ending” – slightly strange as the stolen medal hasn’t been found – and Birkar himself is quoted saying how lovely Rio is.

https://twitter.com/icm_2018/status/1025763167861985280

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“I’m more famous now than I would be”, jokes Birkar.

2018 Fields Medal Winners Announced

2018 Fields Medalists

“A lot of the time, when you do Math, you’re stuck. But you feel privileged to work with it. You have a feeling of transcendence and feel like you’ve been part of something really meaningful.” – Akshay Venkatesh, 2018 Fields Medallist.

The Fields Medal is awarded every four years to four mathematicians, in recognition of outstanding achievement in mathematics. This year’s winners have just been announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Rio de Janeiro, and they are algebraic geometer Caucher Birkar, PDE specialist Alessio Figalli, arithmetic algebraic geometer Peter Scholze, and number theorist Akshay Venkatesh.

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