Yakov Sinai wins the Abel Prize

And I had the job of delivering, in a format suitable for non-mathematicians, a half-hour summary of Sinai’s work.  A tough task, especially since you can’t ask any experts for help without breaking the secrecy!  I like what Tim Gowers wrote in 2011 about doing the same job the year Milnor won.

I was very happy when I learned (after agreeing to make the presentation) that Sinai had won — mainly for the obvious reason that he’s such a deserving recipient, but selfishly because he didn’t realize either of my main two fears.  On the one hand, I feared that the laureate would be someone whose mathematics was so deeply different from anything I know that I would really struggle to say anything at all that I felt confident was correct.  On the other hand, if the winner were someone in number theory, I would feel an intense responsibility to convey the full picture of the winner’s work and how it fit into the entire sweep of the subject, and I would feel terribly guilty about any simplifications I made, and the thing would be a mess.  As it is, the talk was not exactly easy to prepare but I never worried I actually couldn’t do it.  And I learned a lot!

Anyway, the video of the whole ceremony, including my talk starting at about 9:00, is here.

(Note:  All the sound on this is coming from my mike.  So I know it seems like every joke I crack on here is followed by some seconds of uncomfortable silence, but no, seriously, some people laughed, you just couldn’t hear it!)

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3 thoughts on “Yakov Sinai wins the Abel Prize

  1. Rob H. says:

    Congratulation, Jordan! This was really awesome!

    I’m curious, how long did you get to prepare?

  2. JSE says:

    A few weeks, but they were the same few weeks in which I had to write my Arizona Winter School notes! E.G. the real reason I didn’t go on the Sabino Canyon outing was because I knew I was going to need most of a day to turn my notes into actual slides, and that was the only day left…

  3. Matt Baker says:

    Very well done, Jordan! You did well with the interview, too. Did you know Sinai when you were at Princeton?

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