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!)