When I ordered this book, Théorème Vivant (Alive Theorem), by Cédric Villani, I had misgivings about it being yet another illustration of the, pardon my French!, universal “pipolisation” process that turns values upside down and sets mundane aspects of major contemporary figures above their true achievements like, say, winning a Fields medal! However, as soon as I started reading Théorème Vivant, I realised it was a fascinating delve into the way mathematicians operate and how they build theorems. Of course, as an “insider”, I can find many entry points to relate to, some quite mundane and unrelated like entering the common room of a conference centre in the middle of the night to “steal” some life-saving tea bags or an aversion to taxi rides, not mentioning an addiction to French cheeses… And I have the advantage of being able to read the math formulas given in the book (even though this is not at all my area of expertise and I find the wording of the theorems and proofs rather unusual at times). But I think Théorème Vivant can be read by non-mathematicians as well, provided they take those formulas and paper extracts as pictures, just like the drawings of mathematicians interspeded throughout the book and do not get annoyed at not understanding the meaning of them (I do not get the deepest levels either!). Nothing to be afraid of: Théorème Vivant is another impressive illustration of the ability of Cédric Villani to explain mathematics to the general public and to surf upon his popularity with the medias. (The book is currently available in French only, but should soon be translated into English. Possibly polishing the least politically correct statements…) Continue reading
Archive for vulgarisation
After struggling for quite a while on that AMSI public lecture talk, and dreading its loss with the problematic Macbook, I managed to complete a first draft last night in Adelaide, downloading [at high financial cost!] a final set of images from the Web (plus a few personal ones, like a picture of my son’s Warhammer figurines!). Having very few inklings about the level and the expectations of the audience (if any!), I cannot say if this introduction to simulation is too basic. I will see after the first talk whether or not the aim was off-target… In any case, I am glad I was forced into writing this talk as I had always wanted to have a general-audience introduction to simulation at the ready and can now recycle it easily when and if needed. I will certainly use it in my R class this semester.