Call for nominations for the Ostrowski Prize 2017


Call for nominations for the Ostrowski Prize 2017

The aim of the Ostrowski Foundation is to promote the mathematical sciences. Every second year it provides a prize for recent outstanding achievements in pure mathematics and in the foundations of numerical mathematics.

The prize has been awarded every two years since 1989. The most recent winners are Ben Green and Terence Tao in 2005; Oded Schramm in 2007; Sorin Popa in 2009; Ib Madsen, David Preiss, and Kannan Soundararajan in 2011; Yitang Zhang in 2013; and Peter Scholze in 2015.

The jury invites nominations for candidates for the 2017 Ostrowski Prize.  Nominations should include a CV of the candidate, a letter of nomination, and 2-3 letters of reference. Nominations should be sent to the Chair of the jury for 2017, Gil Kalai (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel), by June 30, 2017.

(Because of some technical difficulties in advertising the deadline was extended from the original deadline of May 15, 2017.)

Links: Ostrowski Prize (Webpage) Ostrowski Prize (Wikipedea)

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Problems for Imre Bárány’s Birthday!


On June 18-23 2017 we will celebrate in Budapest the 70th birthday of Imre Bárány. Here is the webpage of the conference. For the occasion I wrote a short paper with problems in discrete geometry, mainly around Helly’s and Tverberg’s theorem. This represents
one of the areas on which Imre Bárány had immense impact. Here is the paper: Problems for Imre Bárány’s birthday.

Happy birthday, dear Imre

(Our 1999 picture was taken by Emo Welzl.)

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Twelves short videos about members of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Victoria

Very nice mathematical videos!

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Jozsef Solymosi is Giving the 2017 Erdős Lectures in Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science



May 4 2:30-3:30; May 7 11:00-13:00; May 10 10:30-12:00

See the event webpage for titles and abstracts (or click on the picture below).


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Updates (belated) Between New Haven, Jerusalem, and Tel-Aviv

This is a (very much) belated update post from the beginning of March (2016).

New Haven

I spent six weeks in February (2016) in New Haven. It was very nice to get back to Yale after more than two years. Here is a picture from the spectacular Yale’s art museum.


Micha Sageev’s construction. I got the gist of it (at last…)

A few years ago I wrote about amazing developments in low dimensional topology. Ian Agol proved the Thurston’s virtual Haken conjecture. The proof relies on earlier major works by Dani Wise and others (see this post) and an important ingredient was Micha Sageev work on cubical complexes arising from 3-manifolds. I remember thinking that as a mathematician in another field it is unrealistic for me to want to understand  these developments in any detail (which is not an obstacle for writing about them), but that one day I want to understand Sageev’s construction. At Yale, Ian Agol gave three lectures on his proof, mentioned a combinatorial form of Sageev construction, and gave me some references. A few days after landing Dani Wise talked at our seminar and he explained to me at lunch how it goes in details. (BTW, a few days before landing Micha Sageev gave a colloquium at HUJI that I missed.) I have some notes,  and it is not so difficult so stay tuned for some details in a future post!. (Update: I will need some refreshing for writing about it. But I can assure you that Micha Sageev’s construction is a beautiful combinatorial  construction that we can understand and perhaps use.)

Unorthodox PNT (and even weak forms of RH).

Hee Oh talked at Yale about various analogs of the prime number theorem (PNT) and in some cases even of weak forms of the Riemann hypothesis for hyperbolic manifolds and for rational maps. This is based on a recent exciting paper by Oh and Dale Winter. Some results for hyperbolic manifolds were known before but moving to dynamics of rational maps is completely new and it follows  a “dictionary” between hyperbolic manifolds and rational maps offered by Dennis Sullivan. It was nice to see in Oh’s lecture unexpected connections between the mathematical objects studied by three Yale mathematicians, Mandelbrot, Margulis, and Minsky. Are these results related to the real Riemann Hypothesis? I don’t know.

Weil conjectures (even for curves): from the very concrete to the very abstract,

Going well over my head I want to tell you about somethings I learned from two lectures. It is about Weil’s conjectures for curves including the  “Riemann hypothesis for curves over finite fields.”   One lecture is by Peter Sarnak and the other by Ravi Vakil. Both lectures were given twice (perhaps a little differently)  in Jerusalem and at Yale few weeks apart. Peter Sarnak mentioned in a talk the very concrete proof by Stepanov to the Rieman hypothesis for curves over finite fields. The proof uses some sort of the polynomial method, and it is this concrete proof  that is useful for a recent work on Markoff triples by Bourgain, Gamburd and Sarnak. Ravi Vakhil mentioned a very very abstract form of the conjecture or, more precisely, of the “rationality” part of it proved in 1960 by Bernard Dwork (yes, Cynthia’s father!). It started from an extremely abstract version offered by  Kapranov in 2000 to which Larsen and Lunts found a counterexample. A certain weaker form of Kapranov’s conjecture that Ravi discussed might still be correct. (A related paper to Ravi’s talk is Discriminants in the Grothendieck ring  by Ravi Vakil and Melanie Matchett Wood.)  These very abstract forms of the conjectues are also extremely appealing and it is especially appealing to see the wide spectrum from the very concrete to the very abstract. It is also nice that both the polynomial method and the quest for rationality (of power series) are present also in combinatorics.

HD expanders, HD combinatorics, and more.

Alex Lubotzky and I gave a  6-weeks course on high dimensional expanders. This was the fourth time we gave a course on the subject and quite a lot have happened since we first taught a similar course some years ago so it was quite interesting to get back to the subject. I certainly plan to devote a few posts to HD-expanders and Ramanujan complexes at some point in the future.

Update: There will be a special semester on high-dimensional combinatorics and the Israeli Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem in the academic year 2017/2018.

At the Simons Center in NYC Rafał Latała gave a beautiful lecture on the solution by Thomas Royen  of the Gaussian correlation conjecture. Here is a review paper by Rafał Latała and Dariusz Matlak.

Update: Here is an article about this proof in Quanta magazine.

Polymath talks

I also gave three lectures at Yale about polymath projects (at that time both Polymath10 and Polymath11 were active), and a special welcome lecture to fresh Ph. D. potential students  POLYMATH and more – Mathematics over the Internet (click for the presentation) about polymath projects and mainly Polymath5, MathOverflow, mathematical aspects of Angry Birds and why they should all choose Yale.

An advantage of being 60.

One of repeated rather unpleasant dreams I had over the years (less so in the last decade)  was that the  Israeli army discovered that I still owe some months of service, and I find myself confusingly and inconveniently back in uniform. A few weeks (+ one year) ago I had a new variant of that dream appropriately scaled to my current age:  MIT discovered that I still owe some months of my postdoctoral service. This was much more pleasant!

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Oded Goldreich Fest

Update (April 17): Outcomes of the poll for the coolest title are in. (See the end of the post)

Oded Goldreich’s 60 birthday meeting, April 19-20 at the Weitzmann Institute promises to be a great event. Here is the webpage of the event. Many cool talks with cool titles. To celebrate the birthday we run a poll for the coolest title among eight selected titles. Please participate!


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The Race to Quantum Technologies and Quantum Computers (Useful Links)

One of my main research directions in the last decade is  quantum information theory and quantum computers. (See this post and this one.) It is therefore a pleasure to report and give many links on the massive efforts carried out these days in these directions and the great enthusiasm and hope these efforts carry.

Updates: I will try to update this post by adding new items at the end (and some important older items that I forgot to include). Update 1, April-May 2017, posted May 24, 2017. Update 2, June-July 2017, posted July 19; revised July 27, 2017.

Europe quantum flagship

European Commission will launch €1 billion quantum technologies flagship; The full quantum manifesto;

An article in the Economist

A general article about quantum technologies and computing  in the Economist.

An article in “Nature”

“Nature” article  Quantum computers ready to leap out of the lab in 2017.  It is mainly on Google, Microsoft, and Monroe’s lab mentioning also IBM, Rigetti and Quantum Circuits (a new startup by the Yale group). A little debate between John Martinis and Robert Schoelkopf about the target of “quantum supremacy.”  Regarding topological quantum computing Leo Kouwenhoven declares that “2017 is the year of braiding,”

For the comment section: “Quantum computers” in various languages

How to say “Quantum computers” in other languages? Hebrew: מחשבים קוונטים pronounced: maghshevim kvantim; Spanish: Computadoras cuánticas (google translate).

Please contribute! For earlier efforts in this spirit see “more or less in various languages” and “When it rains it pours” in various languages. Of course, ordinary comments are welcome as well.

Google/IBM/Microsoft and others: the race for building quantum computers.

The Race to Sell True Quantum Computers Begins Before They Really Exist, (Wired)  Mainly on Google and IBM. IBM Inches Ahead of Google in Race for Quantum Computing Power, MIT Technology Review.  Commercialize quantum technologies in five years (Nature) Continue reading

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Around the Garsia-Stanley’s Partitioning Conjecture


Art Duval, Bennet Goeckner, Carly Klivans, and Jeremy Martin found a counter example to the Garsia-Stanley partitioning conjecture for Cohen-Macaulay complexes. (We mentioned the conjecture here.)  Congratulations Art, Bennet, Carly and Jeremy!  Art, Carly, and Jeremy also wrote an article on the the Partitionability Conjecture in the Notices of the AMS.  (Here is an article about it in the Brown Daily Herald.) Let me tell you about the conjecture and related questions. Here are the last few sentences of the paper.

Even though statements like the Partitionability Conjecture can seem too beautiful to be false, we should remember to keep our minds open about the mathematical unknown—the reality might be quite different, with its own unexpected beauty.

I. Symmetric chain decomposition for the Boolean lattice

I will start with an analogy.

Let P(n) be the family of all subsets of {1,2,…, n}. A family of subsets of {1,2,…, n} is an antichain if no set in the family contains another set in the familySperner’s theorem (see this post) asserts that for every antichain A  of subsets of [n] we have  |A| \le {{n } \choose {n/2}}.

So we have a combinatorial notion: an antichain, and we have a numerical consequence: Sperner’s theorem. Our aim is to give a structure theorem which implies the numerical consequence. A saturated symmetric chain is a chain of n-2k sets of sizes k, k+1, \dots , n-k, for some k.

Symmetric chain decomposition: P(n) can be partitioned into saturated symmetric chains

The partition of P(n) into saturated symmetric chain gives you a combinatorial structure that implies the “numerical” content of Sperner’s theorem. The Garsia-Stanley’s conjecture has a somewhat similar flavor.

Let me note that there are stronger numerical results about antichains such as the LYM inequality (see the same post) and  an interesting question (I think)  is:

Question: Are there decomposition theorems for P(n) that support stronger numerical results about antichains,  such as the LYM inequality?

II. The general framework

The general framework of our discussion is described in the following diagram:

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My Answer to TYI- 28

The fifteen remarkable individuals in the previous post are all the recipients of the  SIGACT Distinguished Service Prize since it was established in 1997. The most striking common feature to all of them is, in my view, that they are all men.

Update:  As Lance Fortnow the chair of the selection committee commented below the deadline for this year nomination is April 2, 2017. (Nominations should be sent to Lance to and if you need more time nicely ask Lance). Lance wrote that the selection committee welcomes diverse applications.


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Test your intuition 28: What is the most striking common feature to all these remarkable individuals

Test your intuition: What is the most striking common feature to all these fifteen remarkable individuals

László Babai; Avi Wigderson; Lance Fortnow; Lane Hemaspaandra; Sampath Kannan; Hal Gabow; Richard Karp; Tom Leighton; Rockford J. Ross; Alan Selman; Michael Langston; S. Rao Kosaraju; Fred S. Roberts; Ian Parberry; David S. Johnson

A poll: Please ignore the “answers” and enter your own answer under “other”.

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