MacLaurin Lecturer 2013: Terry Tao
|19/8/2013||University of Auckland (joint with Massey, Albany)||“Sets with few ordinary lines, and the orchard planting problem”, Math colloquium talk 3-4pm, Conference Centre|
|A function will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 in the Foyer of the Engineering building (just in front of the auditoriums).|
|"The cosmic distance ladder", Public Lecture, 6:30-7:30pm in 401-401 (Engineering building) with possible broadcast in 403-401 and 403-404. Audio Recording|
|20/8||Waikato University||“Sets with few ordinary lines, and the orchard planting problem”, Colloquium lecture, 2:10-3:00 pm, A.G.30.|
|26/8||University of Otago||“Arithmetic progression in the primes”, Colloquium lecture, 2pm Archway 2.|
|27/8||University of Canterbury||“Arithmetic progression in the primes”, Colloquium lecture, 2pm in C2 Lecture Theatre.|
|"The cosmic distance ladder", Public Lecture at 6:30 pm, Jack Mann Auditorium, College of Education (see http://maps.canterbury.ac.nz for precise location).|
|28/8||Palmerston North Massey||“Arithmetic progression in the primes”, Colloquium lecture.|
|29/8||Wellington||The Maths Quest: TePapa + Parliament.|
|"The cosmic distance ladder", Public Lecture at 5.30pm, Royal Society of NZ, Corner of Murphy & Turnbull Streets, Thorndon, Ground floor.|
|30/8||Wellington||“Arithmetic progression in the primes”, Colloquium lecture.|
|31/8||Auckland||Terry departs NZ|
Overall contact person for central questions: Geoff Whittle of VUW firstname.lastname@example.org
Public lecture: "The cosmic distance ladder" by Terry Tao
How do we know the distances from the earth to the sun and moon, from the sun to the other planets, and from the sun to other stars and distant galaxies? Clearly we cannot measure these directly. Nevertheless there are many indirect methods of measurement, combined with basic high-school mathematics, which can allow one to get quite convincing and accurate results without the need for advanced technology (for instance, even the ancient Greeks could compute the distances from the earth to the sun and moon to moderate accuracy). These methods rely on climbing a "cosmic distance ladder", using measurements of nearby distances to then deduce estimates on distances slightly further away; we shall discuss several of the rungs in this ladder in this talk.
Terence "Terry" Tao FRS was born on 17 July 1975 in Adelaide. Terry is an Australian mathematician working in harmonic analysis, partial differential equations, additive combinatorics, ergodic Ramsey theory, random matrix theory, and analytic number theory. He currently holds the James and Carol Collins chair in mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has joint US and Australian citizenship. He was one of the recipients of the 2006 Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Tao was a child prodigy. According to Smithsonian Online Magazine, Tao could carry out basic arithmetic by the age of two. He remains the youngest winner of each of the bronze, silver and gold medals in the history of the International Mathematical Olympiad, at ages 11, 12 and 13 respectively. He published his first paper at age 15, and received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the age of 16 from Flinders University. From 1992 to 1996, Tao was a graduate student at Princeton University under the direction of Elias Stein, receiving his Ph.D. at the age of 20. He joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles in 1996. He was promoted to full professor at UCLA at 24, and remains the youngest person ever appointed to that rank by that institution.
Tao, his wife Laura (an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory), their son and daughter live in Los Angeles, California.
Tao has won numerous honors and awards. He received the Salem Prize in 2000, the Bôcher Memorial Prize in 2002, and the Clay Research Award in 2003, for his contributions to analysis including work on the Kakeya conjecture and wave maps. In 2005 he received the American Mathematical Society's Levi L. Conant Prize with Allen Knutson, and in 2006 he was awarded the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize.
In 2004, Ben Green and Tao released a preprint proving what is now known as the Green–Tao theorem. This theorem states that there are arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions of prime numbers. The New York Times described it this way:
|"In 2004, Dr. Tao, along with Ben Green, a mathematician now at the University of Cambridge in England, solved a problem related to the Twin Prime Conjecture by looking at prime number progressions—series of numbers equally spaced. (For example, 3, 7 and 11 constitute a progression of prime numbers with a spacing of 4; the next number in the sequence, 15, is not prime.) Dr. Tao and Dr. Green proved that it is always possible to find, somewhere in the infinity of integers, a progression of prime numbers of equal spacing and any length.”|
In August 2006, he became one of the youngest persons, the first Australian, and the first UCLA faculty member ever to be awarded a Fields Medal.
An article by New Scientist writes of his ability:
|“Such is Tao's reputation that mathematicians now compete to interest him in their problems, and he is becoming a kind of Mr Fix-it for frustrated researchers. "If you're stuck on a problem, then one way out is to interest Terence Tao," says Charles Fefferman (professor of mathematics at Princeton University).”|
Terry has published over 200 research papers.