The Fields Medal is almost a definition of the mathematical genius, so if you try to form an image of the 60 people who have received the award since 1936, the easiest thing is for the Adams family home or any other frame of hell to come out, all full of bald, fat, abstracted people, with the missing eights chalk vest and a sock of each color. One of the 2017 medalists completely destroys the painting. Roman, 35 years old, tall and distinguished, kind, wise and humanities student rather than scientific, Alessio Figalli seems designed to disprove the archetype of mathematical genius that we all have embedded in our heads. Read on Matter an interesting interview with him,
there are geniuses who look like normal people. Maxwell, the visionary physicist and mathematician who formalized all the electrical and magnetic phenomena known and for knowing in just four equations of insulting simplicity, was an affable man and lover of his family, with a personality that never betrayed the impetuous revolution that was being forged inside his head. So was Niels Bohr, the founder of the Copenhagen school who revealed the quantum nature of the world. And Emmy Noether, the fabulous mathematician who discovered the deep symmetries that govern the laws of physics and inspire physicists to find them. And Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek, co-discoverer of the nuclear force that holds atoms together. I don't know why Diana Krall, the jazz pianist who has destroyed the psychotropic topics on piano andjazz, comes to mind.
Figalli's questions about the pedagogy of mathematics are surely very important. Very few people perceive the creative, almost artistic, nature of mathematics, and the most likely reason is that what they saw at school was rather a soporific chain of doctrines fallen from heaven without the slightest connection to the interests of the boy, a memoristic nightmare of chalk on slate and wet draft. Figalli emphasizes that mathematics is a reasoning school, and one of the best mental gymnastics that can be communicated to the boy's to stimulate his imagination and creativity,
And gives a lot of ideas of direct application in pedagogy: the close relationship between prime numbers and cryptography that protects all digital transactions; the logical center of Google's algorithm, which is based on an advanced statistical concept, Markov chains; how Fourier's analysis underlies Whatsapp voice messages, and how multidimensional algebra cimients Instagram filters. They are recipes to hook a boy until he can't avoid learning the mathematics that explain his world. Great ideas of a normal genius,