‘Lady Gaga Of Mathematics,’ Spreading The Joy Of Math

Craig Gastauer

Biology Teacher in San Diego County. Working to understand how I can improve the student experience for all students at my high school.


Lady Gaga of MathematicsFrench Mathematician Cédric Villani is a fervent advocate for Mathematics — and spider brooches. Although he looks like he just wandered in from the 19th century, Villani is shaking up the world of algebra and geometry.

Aptly nicknamed, “the Lady Gaga of Mathematics,” his interest on “regularizing effects of grazing collisions in kinetic equations” is both eccentric and fascinating. His memoir, Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure, tells how as a kid he was more interested in “hanging exponents on functions like baubles on a tree, and I’m matching factorials like candles” instead of opening Christmas presents.”

Villani hopes to break the misconception of people about mathematics and open their eyes to the endless possibilities of the discipline. In fact, he is leading the ambitious project of opening a museum of mathematics, which could be up and running in Paris by 2018.

He talks to Geoffroy Clavel of The Huffington Post France to answer a number of questions about his upbringing, where he hopes to see himself in 10 years, challenges he’s faced, and more.

One question he answered addressed what advice he would give a young person trying to decide what to do with their life:

“That’s a question that people ask me regularly, because of my incessant interactions with youth assemblies where we discuss careers, among many other topics. I recommend not to be afraid to specialize from the beginning, and seek to gain a real skill, formed by years of specific work, while keeping curiosity about all that is happening around you. I recommend to always leave a place for chance, and do not try too hard to predict the future. I recommend never putting yourself in a box, and moving regularly. I recommend developing your passion without worrying too much about the job that will come with it. A young person should not be too reasonable.”

Read the full interview between Villani and Clavel on Huffingtonpost.com.

 

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