Saturday, March 29, 2008

Day of Mathematicians

As mathematicians convened for another Auckland gathering at AUT, the beautiful day went by hastily. More than an academic forum, the prominent, striking men and women shared distinct fragments of highlighted lives.


Most of them have spent life times researching, teaching, and traveling the globe to spread profound algebraic goodness. Sprouted via Auckland (Cooper, Gauld, Gover, Hunter, Khoussainov, Martin), Canada (Raphael), China (Tan), and the US of A (Lawson and Piotrowski), the guests managed to captivate everyone with both novel reflections and witty anecdotes.

The Battle Wounded

Dr. Gauld’s compacted and photogenic family chronicle led the way toward the history of PoincarĂ© Conjecture. It concerned critical point connections, such as untying knots in 4-dimensional space, where circular spatial movements of the arms became necessary; he endured in spite of a recovering shoulder joint though it probably triggered some winces (or quiet chuckles) in the audience.

Common Language

For both Dr. Raphael and Dr. Tan, English was not their first languages (well, Dr. Raphael spoke fluently with a French accent that some would probably claim “alluring”), and of course that has never stopped them in the past, nor this day. With the aid of highly evolved computer generated presentations, yes overhead projectors have become “un-cool”, communication eased while everyone submerged in oceans of numbers.

Two Particular Mathematicians, Two Identical Names

The last speaker of the day, Dr. Piotrowski, electrified the room with his larger-than-life personality. Eyes bulged, mouths opened, and hair possibly shocked upright, everybody laughed and the occasionally gasped throughout the half hour talk.

Not all understood the complex closed graphs theorem connected with topology (perhaps just me), Dr. Piotrowski enthralled every single person in the room with the tale of two Polish mathematics scholars, finished in the same year, undergoing ridiculously insignificant probability, of having the same exact first and last names. This mathematical irony could become a subject of enthusiasm for generations to come.

“17:35 to infinity”

Dr. Jiling Cao and Peter Watson, the administrator, at the Dept of Mathematics mean business when it comes to partying. Mouth watering cheese pastries, mini salmon rolls, exotic samosas burst into thousands of little flavor crystals with each nibble. Locally distinguished wine flowed through the room, and furthered appetite, along with enthusiastic mingling.

Dr. Lawson mentioned current conditions of Batton Rouge, Dr. Hunter continued with some afterthoughts on Markov chain, and Dr. Piotrowski explained how incredibly cultured Cleveland had grown. Freely discussed, everybody exchanged segments of each others’ mind, and while slightly buzzed off the divine drinks, anything and everything sounded particularly fascinating.

The night went on, and so did the festivity of great people, great minds. Somehow, somewhere, mathematics has become very cool.

This article is also published at the American Chronicle

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