Program for Women and Mathematics Explores Random Matrix Theory

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A review session during the 2013 program (Photo by Andrea Kane)
Princeton, NJ - Tuesday, April 29, 2014

PRESS CONTACT: Alexandra Altman, (609) 951-4406

This May, the annual Program for Women and Mathematics will bring together research mathematicians and undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral women studying mathematics for an intensive residential mentoring program. The 2014 lecture series will explore random matrix theory, and marks the end of the Institute for Advanced Study’s yearlong special program on non-equilibrium dynamics and random matrices in its School of Mathematics. The program, now in its twenty-first year, will take place May 12–23 on the campus of the Institute and is sponsored by the Institute and Princeton University, with support from the National Science Foundation.

The Program for Women and Mathematics seeks to inspire talented women from undergraduate through postdoctoral levels to achieve their educational goals, as well as to address the isolation and lack of support many women face in mathematics. In addition to lectures and seminars focused on random matrix theory, the program includes mentoring, discussions on peer relations, an introduction to career opportunities and a series of seminars about women in science.

“Applications of random matrices are abundant in mathematics, physics and engineering,” stated Christine Taylor, Lecturer at Princeton University, who is one of the organizers of the program. “It is a field that has experienced tremendous progress and attention in recent years, yet has very few women practitioners, especially in the United States. This year’s Women and Mathematics program is particularly important for the future of women in the field.” Random matrix theory was developed by Eugene Wigner about 60 years ago to explain phenomenon in nuclear physics. Twenty years later, a serendipitous conversation between Freeman Dyson, Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, and Hugh Montgomery, Member (1970–71, 76–77) in the School of Mathematics, during tea at the Institute led to the amazing discovery that eigenvalues of random matrices and zeroes of the Riemann zeta function behave in a similar fashion. To learn more about Dyson and Montgomery’s conversation in 1972 visit http://www.ias.edu/articles/random-matrix-theory.

In addition to Taylor, organizers for the 2014 program are Sun-Yung Alice Chang, Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University; Antonella Grassi, Professor at University of Pennsylvania; and Dusa McDuff, Helen Lyttle Kimmel ’42 Professor of Mathematics at Barnard College, Columbia University.

The course will feature as lecturers Catherine Donati-Martin of the Université de Versailles, Ioana Dumitriu of the University of Washington, Alice Guionnet of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Elizabeth Meckes of Case Western Reserve University.

For more information, visit http://www.math.ias.edu/wam/2014 or follow the program on Twitter with #WomenandMath2014

About the Program for Women and Mathematics

The Program for Women and Mathematics grew out of the Park City Mathematics Institute, an outreach program of the Institute for Advanced Study that provides professional development for the mathematics community. In 1994, a program called the Mentoring Program for Women in Mathematics was formed with the long-term goal of giving women the support needed to remain in the field of mathematics. Now known as the Program for Women and Mathematics, the program’s participants include undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral scholars and senior researchers. Collaborations and mentoring relationships are formed during the program and are maintained long afterward.

About the Institute for Advanced Study

The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. The Institute exists to encourage and support curiosity-driven research in the sciences and humanities – the original, often speculative thinking that produces advances in knowledge that change the way we understand the world. Work at the Institute takes place in four Schools: Historical Studies, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Social Science. It provides for the mentoring of scholars by a permanent Faculty of no more than 28, and it ensures the freedom to undertake research that will make significant contributions in any of the broad range of fields in the sciences and humanities studied at the Institute.

The Institute, founded in 1930, is a private, independent academic institution located in Princeton, New Jersey. Its more than 6,000 former Members hold positions of intellectual and scientific leadership throughout the academic world. Some 33 Nobel Laureates and 38 out of 52 Fields Medalists, as well as many winners of the Wolf or MacArthur prizes, have been affiliated with the Institute.

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