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Taking my wife to America


Talks at Princeton
Michael Atiyah Mathematician
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Serre was running a seminar on analytical bundles and things like that. I talked… I gave three talks in that seminar. I remember, the first time I'd given a seminar – people like Serre and Borel were in the audience and it was quite intimidating. I mean, I hadn't been used to the kind of precise style they expected. I would make some statement, and they would cross examine, ‘What do you mean and what it...’  It was quite different from the friendly, gentlemanly atmosphere that there used to be in Cambridge where people would, you know, wouldn't treat you like that; but there they were very, very tough. They wanted precision – Bourbaki style – and I remember being exposed to that, and learning a bit as a result.

Eminent British mathematician Sir Michael Atiyah (1929-2019) broke new ground in geometry and topology with his proof of the Atiyah-Singer Index Theorem in the 1960s. This proof led to new branches of mathematics being developed, including those needed to understand emerging theories like supergravity and string theory.

Listeners: Nigel Hitchin

Professor Nigel Hitchin, FRS, is the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, since 1994, and was appointed to the Savilian Professorship of Geometry in October 1997. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1991 and from 1994 until 1996 was President of the London Mathematical Society.

His research interests are in differential and algebraic geometry and its relationship with the equations of mathematical physics. He is particularly known for his work on instantons, magnetic monopoles, and integrable systems. In addition to numerous articles in academic journals, he has published "Monopoles, Minimal Surfaces and Algebraic Curves" (Presses de l'Universite de Montreal, 1987) and "The Geometry and Dynamics of Magnetic Monopoles" (Princeton University Press, 1988, with Michael Atiyah).

Tags: Princeton, Jean-Pierre Serre, Armand Borel

Duration: 47 seconds

Date story recorded: March 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008