ICM2010 — final post

The previous post was the final post in the sense of being the last post describing my experience of the ICM. But here I’ll just quickly collect together a few bits of information that it might be handy to have in the same place. I’ll start with links to the recordings of all the talks I have described that were recorded. (You can find these, and all the other talks, by going to the ICM website, but my experience is that they are organized in a rather irritating way: on one page you have a schedule but no links to videos, and on a separate page you have links to lots of videos but are not told which link is to which talk.) Then I’ll collect together my favourite quotes from my four days at the congress. Finally, I’ll give a collection of links. If anyone has any suggestions for possible additions to this page, I’ll be happy to consider them.

Talks discussed on this blog

Opening ceremony Part I (This starts with a close-up of Kevin O’Bryant, includes about 15 minutes before the ceremony started, which allows you to hear, not very well, the Indian music that was going on, and gets up to just before the announcement of the Fields medallists.)

Opening ceremony Part II (This takes you from the announcement of the Fields medals to Martin Grötschel’s amusing discussion of impact factors.)

Opening ceremony Part III (The last ten minutes, starts in the middle of Grötschel’s talk and includes his demonstration of the IMU page with all ICM proceedings on it)

Laudationes Part I (Starts with twenty minutes of empty stage — the result of the laudationes starting late — and gives you all of Furstenberg on Lindenstrauss and the beginning of Arthur on Ngo)

Laudationes Part II (The rest of Arthur on Ngo, then almost all of Kesten on Smirnov)

Laudationes Part III (The rest of Kesten on Smirnov, then H-T Yau on Villani. Ends with a shot of the audience while Kalai gets ready to start talking about Spielman.)

Laudationes Part IV (Gil Kalai’s talk with the introduction cut off, and the first half or so of Varadhan’s Abel lecture.)

Chern event I (May Chu’s words, the Simons-Sullivan interview, two more Chern videos, most of Bryant’s talk about Chern’s work. If nothing else, jump to 14:00 and you will get the Hilbert quote — see below — and also the fault in the DVD that Ingrid Daubechies discussed so interestingly the next day. Her mention of it starts at about 32:50 in the Yves Meyer laudatio, though to get a better idea of the explanation one needs to listen to a few minutes leading up to that.)

Chern event II (Last fifteen minutes of Bryant’s talk, Yan Yan Li’s laudatio for Nirenberg)

Yves Meyer laudatio (Given by Ingrid Daubechies. It starts at about minute 21, after 20 minutes of the empty stage and canned music. Not quite all the talk is included.)

Smirnov lecture (The very beginning is cut off, but at least it goes right to the end.)

Avila’s plenary lecture (I strongly recommend the first five minutes or so as an almost perfect example of how to begin a lecture like this. Cut off just before the end.)

Dinur’s plenary lecture (Tragically, the end of this talk is cut off too, which means that most of the explanation of her new proof of the PCP theorem is missing. But there is plenty else to enjoy.)

Spielman’s talk (This one we get in full. A must-watch.)

Aldous’s plenary lecture (Aldous’s lecture. Also highly recommended. Interesting all the way through, but worth it for the first ten minutes alone if that’s all you have time for. Another one that’s cut off before the end — the price paid for some wasted minutes at the beginning.)

Ngo’s lecture (We get the talk in its entirety.)

Quotes of ICM2010

“All I can say about our country is that no statement about India is either true or false, and that’s the only statement that is true about India.” (Said by the woman in green at the opening ceremony.)

“And in fact impact factors can now be viewed not as a matter of statistics but of game theory.” (Martin Grötschel at opening ceremony discussing a recent article by Doug Arnold.)

“I’m still trying.” (Louis Nirenberg on whether mathematicians do their best work by the age of 40.)

“It can be described crudely by saying that whatever is not excluded for some good reason and can happen in principle will eventually happen at least approximately. Some people think this is true only about bad things: if it can happen it will happen.” (Furstenberg, summing up the general philosophy of ergodic theory.)

I thought there might be a nice quote about icebergs from Jim Arthur talking about Ngo, but although the idea was nice it was spread over a few sentences. But if you go to 0:58:37 or so in Laudationes Part I then you can hear it.

“Nobody knows what entropy really is, so in a debate you will always have the advantage.” (Von Neumann, quoted by H-T Yau, advising Shannon to use the word “entropy”.)

“I promise that this talk will be comprehensible.” (Gil Kalai at the beginning of his laudatio for Spielman.)

“After all, he’s not David Hilbert.” (Chern, on hearing that Simons had left mathematics — quoted by Simons.)

“Shoot.” (Ingrid Daubechies during her talk, reacting to a minor error in her slides.)

“If you can’t use equations, then what you want to do is use words.” (Jacob Lurie on what to do when you get stuck.)

“I don’t want you to think all this is theory for the sake of it, or rather for the sake of itself. It’s theory for the sake of other theory.” (Jacob Lurie.)

“I expected that I would be going overtime, but I think I haven’t.” (Jacob Lurie.)

“There’s a difference between a recipe for a cake and a cake.” (David Aldous explaining the difference between functions on probability spaces and random variables.)

“It’s a non-obvious theorem that has to be true or life wouldn’t make sense whatsoever.” (David Aldous on the result that all sensible random variables can be realized with [0,1] as the probability space.)

I’ll end this section with a more extended quotation. I copied it down from a small exhibition of photos of people at IHES that was on the first floor of the convention centre.

“For some weeks I had been battling with an article by Faltings … That particular afternoon I had succeeded in giving it a precise meaning. Thereupon, though slightly disappointed after all my efforts, I had finally written out a lemma of ten lines, that wasn’t at all surprising, except to the extent that it seemed to have been unknown up till then. At teatime I told my lemma to Laurent Lafforgue who replied with his usual enthusiasm: ‘But that’s exactly what you have to do!’ His enthusiasm warmed my heart without totally dissipating my doubts.

“I now think that Lafforgue was right that afternoon: I had experienced one of the most decisive moments of my career.” (Ngo Bao Chau.)

Other ICM2010-related links

The front page of the ICM2010 website.

Terence Tao on the work of Lindenstrauss, Ngo, Smirnov and Villani

Terence Tao on the work of Spielman, Meyer and Nirenberg

A page with useful links, including to Julie Rehmeyer’s summaries of the prizewinners’ work.

Plus magazine’s coverage of ICM2010

Alex Bellos gives a mathematically informed journalist’s view of the ICM.

Links to ICM2010-related papers, etc.

David Aldous’s slides

Marianna Csörnyei’s proceedings paper

Irit Dinur’s paper on the PCP theorem

The slides for Gil Kalai’s laudatio of Dan Spielman

Mathoverflow discussion about Jacob Lurie’s work

Assaf Naor’s proceedings paper

Spielman and Teng’s proceedings paper

Benny Sudakov’s slides

A page with links to written versions of laudationes

26 Responses to “ICM2010 — final post”

  1. Sakura-chan Says:

    Thanks for your great blogging Tim!

  2. Gil Kalai Says:

    I enjoyed reading the ICM10 live blogging, Tim
    The slides of my lecture on Dan Spielman’s work are here: http://gilkalai.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/dsicm10.pdf

  3. ICM2014 « Út V. Lê Says:

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  4. the ICM2010 « Út V. Lê Says:

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  6. Gil Kalai Says:

    Perhaps it can be useful to the readers to include in the section “Talkes discussed on the blog” also the links to the posts themselves.

  7. Mabruk Elon, India, and More « Combinatorics and more Says:

    […] descriptions that you can find on this page, you can also look at Terry Tao’s blog and at Gowers’ blog. The ICM lectures of the prize winners can be found on this page and they are very […]

  8. Joseph Malkevitch Says:

    For those who enjoyed the discussions here you might also enjoy this: http://images.math.cnrs.fr/Congres-International-des.html

  9. A Few Mathematical Snapshots from India (ICM2010) | Combinatorics and more Says:

    […] much from the lectures themselves but from accidental meetings with people. (Tim Gowers extensively live-blogged from ICM10.) First, the two big problems in analysis according to Assaf Naor as told at the […]

  10. T.G. Says:

    Professor Gowers,

    Here is a poll to test people’s expectations for 2014:


  11. T.G. Says:

    The survey is now complete, and a new poll is released:


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