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The Unravelers: Mathematical Snapshots

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Through revealing photographs and accompanying text, this book offers an enchanting and beautiful glimpse into the inner life of the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHES). The IHES in France is an institute of advanced research in mathematics and theoretical physics with an interest in epistemology and the history of science. It provides exceptionally gifted scientists with a place where they can devote themselves entirely to their research, free of teaching and administrative constraints, and offers them the opportunity to invite visitors with whom they wish to work.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The book is a window on the inner life of the The Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHES), an institute of advanced research in mathematics and theoretical physics. [The editors] utilize candid photographs and commentary from and exchanges with the researchers themselves to depict the IHES environment and the work conducted in the unique institute.
—Reference & Research Book News, February 2009

I often want to show my students what the people we talk about looked (or look) like, but it is often frustrating and difficult to find good photographs of mathematicians, and even harder to get information about when they were made, and by whom. This is one of the things that makes books like this one valuable: here are some of the big names, and we know exactly where and when the photos were taken. Historians, in particular, will find this valuable. Most of all, however, these expressive photos of mathematicians and theoretical physicists doing what they do are a beautiful record of the life of a place and of the people who go there.
—Fernando Q. Gouvêa, MAA Reviews, February 2009

One gets a vivid and unusual picture of mathematics from the side not of theorems and proofs but from the side of the experience of mathematicians . . . doing mathematics.
Zentralblatt MATH, January 2009

It is a hymn to this little paradise for very brilliant people, called IHES, a very special center of mathematical research of the highest order . . . By showing visitors from all over teh world, the album also shows how much the world of mathematics has become global . . . This charming little book can keep us dreaming of the excitement of science.
—Jean-Michel Kantor, The Mathematical Intelligencer , July 2009

The Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in France is an institue of advanced research in mathematics and theoretical physics. This book contains snapshots of its scientists and visitors, [all of whom] contributed a little essay on subjects from mathematics to philosophy. ... [It] can serve as a recreational read for anyone.
EMS Newsletter, December 2009

This book is recreational, insightful, and pleasant. ... I can easily see sharing parts with my students to help them see through this small window when they ask, 'Where will we use this?' The small bits I have shared have sparked more interest in mathematics as a field instead of just a doorway into engineering or other scientific interests. I recommend this book to teachers and students.
—Allen Jacobson, Mathematics Teacher, March 2010

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568814414
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Dreams Michael Atiyah Atiyah, Michael 1

Interval 2

Pitiless Reality Alain Connes Connes, Alain 3

From Tasmania with Love Dirk Kreimer Kreimer, Dirk 15

Puzzles Karen Yeats Yeats, Karen 19

Structured Fury Paulo Almeida Almeida, Paulo 21

A Tartar Desert Ngo Bao Chau Chau, Ngo Bao 24

Exoticism Paul-Olivier Dehaye Dehaye, Paul-Olivier 28

Entr'acte 30

Curiosity Sophie de Buyl de Buyl, Sophie 36

The Paving Stones of the Route de Charres Thibault Damour Damour, Thibault 39

Pause 42

From 1948 to the Present Day Cecile DeWitt DeWitt, Cecile 43

Knowing, Understanding, Discovering Yvonne Choquet-Bruhat Choquet-Bruhat, Yvonne 47

Farewell to Alexander's Sword Arndt Benecke Benecke, Arndt 51

Interlude 53

Dialogue on the Scales of Life Annick Lesne Lesne, Annick 54

Teatime 58

Lost in Translation Nikita Nekrasov Nekrasov, Nikita 60

Thought Technology: The Pursuit of Structure Yiannis Vlassopoulos Vlassopoulos, Yiannis 68

Mathematical Physics Ivan Todorov Todorov, Ivan 72

In Praise of Tautology Anna Wienhard Wienhard, Anna 74

New Worlds Giovanni Landi Landi, Giovanni 75

The Music Pavilion Pierre Deligne Deligne, Pierre 77

Long Live the Whale Claire Voisin Voisin, Claire 79

What Does One Write on It? Jean-Marc Deshouillers Deshouillers, Jean-Marc 80

Solidarity Pierre Carrier Carrier, Pierre 84

North-South Ali Chamseddine Chamseddine, Ali 91

Privilege Christophe Breuil Breuil, Christophe 93

What Do Mathematicians Do? Laurent Berger Berger, Laurent 96

Fractalitas Matilde Lalin Lalin, Matilde 100

Mathematics, Biology and Neurobiology Jurgen Jost Jost, Jurgen 102

Mathematics in the Biological Sciences Henry Tuckwell Tuckwell, Henry104

Intermezzo 107

The Unravelers Katia Consani Consani, Katia 108

Long Live the Machine Oscar Lanford Lanford, Oscar 111

Arriving in Paradise Jurg Frohlich Frohlich, Jurg 114

Go to the Board! Sylvie Paycha Paycha, Sylvie 120

Lunch at IHES (1975-1995) Dennis Sullivan Sullivan, Dennis 122

Happy Day at Bures-sur-Yvette in the Sixties Jacques Tits Tits, Jacques 124

The Flowers of Maths Wendy Lowen Lowen, Wendy 127

The Arcane in the Mundane Michael Berry Berry, Michael 129

Allegory Nathalie Deruelle Deruelle, Nathalie 130

Coffee break 132

Correspondence Minoru Wakimoto Wakimoto, Minoru 140

Ilan Victor Kac Kac, Victor 145

The Four Mysteries of the World Mikhail Gromov Gromov, Mikhail 148

Flashes Etienne Ghys Ghys, Etienne 152

State of Grace David Eisenbud Eisenbud, David 157

Violins Christophe Soule Soule, Christophe 159

Mathematics as Culture and Knowledge Matilde Marcolli Marcolli, Matilde 160

A Question of Time Alessandra Carbone Carbone, Alessandra 165

"The Times, They Are A-changing" Jean-Francois Mela Mela, Jean-Francois 168

The Vision Jean-Pierre Bourguignon Bourguignon, Jean-Pierre 170

Taming Mathematics Denis Auroux Auroux, Denis 174

Three Lights Alexandr Usnich Usnich, Alexandr 177

Beyond Numbers Maxim Kontsevitch Kontsevitch, Maxim 180

Photographs 185

Thank You for Everything 196

Index 197

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