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!)
Congratulation, Jordan! This was really awesome!
I’m curious, how long did you get to prepare?
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…
Very well done, Jordan! You did well with the interview, too. Did you know Sinai when you were at Princeton?