Carnegie Mellon University
November 15, 2018

Preeminent Mathematicians to Speak at Abel in Pittsburgh

By Jocelyn Duffy

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS
  • 412-268-9982

Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Mathematical Sciences will host four of the world’s preeminent mathematicians in January for Abel in Pittsburgh. The one-day conference, held on Jan. 11, 2019, is the ninth edition of the “Abel in…” series that aims to increase public awareness of mathematics and the Abel Prize.

The conference will be held in Rashid Auditorium in the Gates and Hillman Centers. Lectures are free and open to the public. Attendees should register by Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, at the Abel in Pittsburgh website:

The Abel Prize, awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for a researcher’s contributions to mathematics over the course of a career, is considered to be the most important prize in the field for lifetime achievement. Kavčić-Moura University Professor of Mathematics Irene Fonseca is a member of the Abel Committee, who selects the recipient of the Abel Prize. She is co-organizing the conference with Professor of Mathematical Sciences Dejan Slepčev. 

Scheduled to speak:

Yakov Sinai, professor of mathematics, Princeton University
2014 Abel Laureate Sinai is one of the most influential mathematicians of the last century, having achieved groundbreaking results in the theory of dynamical systems, mathematical physics and probability theory. Many mathematical results are named after him including the Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy, Sinai’s billiards, Sinai’s random walk, Sinai-Ruelle-Bowen measures and Priogov-Sinai theory. In addition to the Abel Prize, he is the recipient of the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the Wolf Prize in Mathematics, the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics, the Henri Poincaré Prize and the Dobrushin International Prize.

Sun-Yung Alice Chang, professor of mathematics, Princeton University
Chang’s research focuses on geometric analysis and conformal geometry and is involved in a project that applies partial differential equation methods to classify a class of manifold of dimension four via conformal invariants. She is the recipient of a Sloan Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is a member of the Abel Committee.

Gil Kalai, Henry and Manya Noskwith Professor of Mathematics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and professor of computer science, IDC Herzliya
Kalai will discuss two related puzzles dealing with noise sensitivity and stability in mathematics and computation. The first concerns errors made when votes are counted during elections, the second concerns the possibility of quantum computers. Kalai’s research focuses on combinatorics, convexity and their applications. His most recent work is on noisy quantum computation. Kalai is the recipient of the Polya Prize, the Erdos Prize, the Fulkerson Prize and the Rothschild Prize. He is a member of the Abel Committee. 

Scott Sheffield, professor of mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sheffield will give a broad overview of his recent work in conformal probability, including the relationships between random fractal curves, 2D quantum gravity surfaces, continuum random trees, Gaussian free fields and other objects inspired by problems in physics. For his work, Sheffield has received the Loève Prize, the Rollo Davidson Prize, the Clay Research Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the Sloan Research Fellowship.

The conference also will serve as an opportunity for the Abel Committee, which consists of Fonseca, Chang, Kalai, François Labourie from the Université de Nice and Hans Munthe-Kaas from the University of Bergen, to meet. The group will recommend a candidate for the 2019 Abel Prize on March 19, 2019, and the prize will be bestowed at an awards ceremony in Oslo, Norway, on May 20.