ICM2014 — introductory post

Four years ago I blogged from the ICM in Hyderabad. The posts are amongst the most popular I have written — my statistics show that some of them are still being read quite regularly even now. Right now I’m sitting in Charles de Gaulle airport waiting to board a plane to Seoul, where I will be attending this year’s ICM, or rather, as I did last time, attending the first half of it. I’m not sure I’ll have the time or energy to write quite as much about ICM2014 as I did about ICM2010, but I’ll do what I can. In particular, I’ll try to convey exactly what I manage to understand from some of the main talks — especially the talks about the work of the new Fields Medallists. Given all the rumours about the likelihood of one of them being female, I am particularly glad to be going to the opening ceremony to witness (I hope) an important moment in mathematical history.

Just as the last ICM was the first (and still only) time I had been to India, this one will be my first visit to Korea. I’m looking forward to that aspect too, though my hotel is right next to where the congress is taking place and the programme looks pretty packed, so I’m not sure I’ll see much of the country. Talking of the packedness of the programme, I can already see that there are going to be some agonising decisions. For example, Tom Sanders is giving an invited lecture at the same time as Ryan Williams, two speakers I very much want to listen to. I suppose I’ll just have to read the proceedings article of the one I don’t go to. Equally unfortunate is that Ben Green’s plenary lecture is not until next week, when I’ll have gone. But I hope that I’ll still be able to get some kind of feel for where mathematics is now, what people outside my area consider important, and so on, and that I’ll be able to convey some of that in the next few posts.

I’d better stop this now, since I’ll soon be getting on to an Airbus 380 — a monstrously large double-decker plane. One of my children is something of a transport enthusiast and told me in advance that this would be the case (he had looked it up on the internet). I had hoped to end up on the top floor, but that turns out to be for business class only. The flight is about 11 hours: it leaves at 9pm French time and arrives at around 2:30pm Korean time. The challenge will be not to be utterly exhausted by the time of the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning. My memory of Hyderabad is that by the end of the four days I was so tired that I was almost getting anxious about my health. I plan to look after myself a bit better this time, but it may be difficult.

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8 Responses to “ICM2014 — introductory post”

  1. vcvpaiva Says:

    Hoping you’re right about the female Fields medal, fingers crossed…

  2. Mohammad B. Says:

    Looking forward to your future posts. In all honesty, I felt reading your posts on the ICM 2010 was probably much more useful for me than actually attending the event :-)

  3. Uwe Stroinski Says:

    – My memory of Hyderabad is that by the end of the four days I was so tired that I was almost getting anxious about my health. I plan to look after myself a bit better this time, but it may be difficult. —

    It would not be the end of the world if you took a day off and did some right seeing.

  4. ICM attendee Says:

    Good news — actually, Sanders talks on the 16th and Williams on the 19th so you can see both! (If you’re still around on the 19th that is.)

  5. Atila Smith Says:

    That a woman would be awarded a Fields medal in the contemporary sociological context of political correctness is less unexpected than the next pope being a Catholic. Claiming that it is “an important moment in mathematical history” is endearingly illusory.

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