Monthly Archives: November 2010

Past Mordell Lecturers

I’ve reconstructed the history of the Mordell Lectureship, but there are some gaps, which perhaps others can fill. The gap in 1970 might mean that appointment of a lecturer was deferred, but the gap from 1991 to 1997 (if the rules were followed) must have had some lecturers in it. And I’m missing most titles before 1998, when the University Reporter went online.

Update: A source has supplied the missing names of speakers.
Update (2017): Speakers since 2011 now added.

1970   J. W. S. Cassels
1971   C. A. Rogers
1972   Oscar Zariski
1973   Paul Halmos
1974   Michael Atiyah
1975   Fritz Hirzebruch
1976   Kai Lai Chung, Theta functions from Brownian excursions
1977   Gustave Choquet
1978   Jacques Tits, Rigidity
1979   Paul Erdös
1980   Donald J. Lewis
1981   Gilbert Baumslag
1982   Jean Pierre Kahane
1983   S. J. Taylor
1984   André Haefliger
1985   John Coates
1986   Donald Burkholder
1987   Vaughan Jones
1988   Alan Baker
1989   J. A. Green
1990   Alexander Schrijver
1991   Simon Donaldson
1992   Gisbert Wustholz
1993   Nicholas Varopoulos
1994   Jean-Yves Girard
1995   László Lovász
1996   Andrew Wiles
1997   Cliff Taubes
1998   Johan de Jong, Curves over finite fields and Galois representations
1999   Don Zagier, Mock modular forms, Maass modular forms, and true modular forms
2000   Cameron Gordon, The classification of knots
2001   David Aldous, Mathematical probability: some topics we do understand and some we don’t
2002   Yakov Eliashberg, Symplectic field theory: its structure and applications
2003   Mike Hopkins, Algebraic topology and modular forms
2004   Noga Alon, Polynomials in discrete mathematics
2005   Peter Sarnak, The Ramanujan conjecture and its generalizations
2006   Vitaly Bergelson, Ergodic theorems along polynomials: from combinatorial applications to challenges for physicists
2007   Demetrios Christodoulou, Acoustical spacetime geometry and shock formation
2008   Tobias Colding, Geometric PDE
2009   Anatole Katok, KAM and rigidity
2010   Lectureship deferred
2011   Alex Lubotzky, Short presentations of finite groups
2012   Paul Seidel, Categorical dynamics
2014   Alex Eskin, The SL(2,R) action on moduli space
2015   Daniel Spielman, The solution of the Kadison-Singer problem
2016   Dana Scott, Why mathematical proof?
2017   Laura DeMarco, Complex dynamics and elliptic curves

The Mordell Lectureship was established in honor of Louis Mordell, Sadleirian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. He was also an undergraduate at Cambridge, and the New York Times in 1909 had a short item about him:

MORDELL CARRIES HONORS MODESTLY; American Winner of Cambridge Wranglership Admits Being Erratic Student. DECLINED TO HAVE A COACH Only Studied When in the Mood — Believes in Plenty of Exercise and Is Fond of Tennis and Swimming.

Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.
June 20, 1909,


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Not the Royal Wedding

The list of Cambridge events is kept (somewhat) updated: here.

Save these dates in spring 2011 for scintillating mathematical events in Cambridge:

March 21-25
Emmanuel Candes, the 2011 London Mathematical Society Invited Lecturer, will give an eight-lecture mini-course on compressed sensing at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. These lectures will be complemented by one-hour lectures by Anders Hansen (Cambridge), Vincent Rivoirard (Paris-Dauphine), Carola Schoenlieb (Cambridge) and Jared Tanner (Edinburgh). More details: here.

April 4-7
The 34th Annual Research Student Conference in Probability and Statistics will be held at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences. The already well populated website is: here.

April 28
Alex Lubotzky will give the 2011 Mordell Lecture of the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics (DPMMS).

And from January to July, two excellent programs will be running at the Newton Institute: Moduli Spaces and Discrete Analysis. Since this is a geometry blog, I should especially plug the Moduli Spaces program. The people making visits to the UK for this program include some exciting algebraic geometers, such as Valery Alexeev, Kai Behrend, Barbara Fantechi, Gavril Farkas, Daniel Huybrechts, Lothar Goettsche, Rahul Pandharipande, Claire Voisin… I could go on and on.

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Caucher Birkar has been awarded 2010 Philip Leverhulme prize

Caucher Birkar has been awarded one of this year’s Philip Leverhulme prizes. These prizes are intended for “outstanding scholars who have made a substantial and recognised contribution to their particular field of study, recognised at an international level, and where the expectation is that their greatest achievement is yet to come.”

In an earlier post, I said that the abundance conjecture was probably the major open problem in birational geometry. That’s because the obvious major problem in the field, finite generation of the canonical ring, was recently proved by Caucher, with Paulo Cascini, Christopher Hacon and James McKernan (in the paper known as BCHM). Since then he’s been a leader in pushing forward minimal model theory in dimensions 4, 5 and 6.

The other Leverhulme prize winners in mathematics and statistics this year are Tim Browning (Bristol), Tom Coates (Imperial), Radek Erban (Oxford) and Nicolai Meinshausen (Oxford).

Earlier winners are listed: here.

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Hear top geometers! Edinburgh, December 6

Yujiro Kawamata (Tokyo) and Yum-Tong Siu (Harvard) will speak in Edinburgh on Monday, December 6th, at a meeting of the London Mathematical Society. Limited funds are available to contribute to the expenses of members of the LMS or research students to attend the meeting. Contact Isabelle Robinson <> for information.

This should be an interesting afternoon. Kawamata will speak on the abundance conjecture, perhaps the main open problem in birational geometry. Siu, the second speaker, has strongly suggested that he can prove this conjecture by analytic techniques.

Schedule and location
15.00  Tea and coffee
15.30-16.20  Yujiro Kawamata, Survey of the Abundance Conjecture
16.30-17.20  Yum-Tong Siu, Recent and Historical Analytic Techniques for Algebro-geometric Problems
18.00  Wine reception

UPDATE: I believe these talks are now taking place at the ICMS, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AA. Directions: here.

This LMS meeting is part of the first day of a conference on Birational Geometry organized by Caucher Birkar and Ivan Cheltsov, taking place 6-10 December at the Institute of Geography, Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9XP (Google map: here). See details for the entire conference: here.


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