An interview with Alain Connes by Connes A.

By Connes A.

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In mathematics the problem is not really to be a hero but to be able to be patient and to apply enough intensity in one’s research. MK But also as a teacher I think it’s important to give role models to young people, something young people can aspire to be, to emulate and look up to. 38 C I’m the worst person to be a role model. MK You are a very hard role model to try to emulate of course! GBK So you don’t have any heroes but who do you admire most? C Life forced certain mathematicians to be heroes and of course Galois is a marvelous example in that respect.

Teaching is extremely useful for several reasons. The first is that you learn to give a talk, the second is that you are forced to check things carefully. It is not an expository talk, it has to be done with all the details. There are other reasons like getting fruitful interactions with the audience. Finally there is 30 no way one can become lazy since it is very demanding over the years to produce each year enough material for 18 hours of original work. GBK Are these talks are well attended? C Yes about 70 people attend.

From my point of view the actual system in the US really discourages people who are truly original thinkers, which often goes with a slow maturation at the technical level. Also the way the young people get their position on the market creates “feudalities” namely a few fields well implanted in key universities which reproduce themselves leaving no room for new fields. 32 GBK In the US there are so many mathematicians. Their system produces about 1200 new PhD’s a year. C And they can’t find a position unless they belong to a field with the stamp of approval.

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An interview with Alain Connes by Connes A.
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