Russian Mathematician to Deliver Clark Lecture

Dr. Stanislav Smirnov Earned Fields Medal for Work Critical to Statistical Physics

Apr. 12, 2011

Mathematician Dr. Stanislav Smirnov will deliver the Anson L. Clark Memorial Lecture on Tuesday, April 12, titled, “What is a Random Walk?”

Smirnov won the Fields Medal in 2010, which recognizes outstanding discoveries in the field of mathematics. It is awarded once every four years to researchers younger than 40.

Lecture Topic: ‘What
is a Random Walk?’

Almost two centuries ago a famous Scottish botanist Robert Brown observed through his microscope chaotic movement of small particles inside pollen grains.

Despite extensive studies of the "Brownian motion," it took 80 years and Albert Einstein to explain this phenomenon, giving the first experimental evidence for the molecular structure of matter.

A century has passed, but the mathematics behind "random walks" remains a fascinating subject, appearing almost everywhere: from protein folding and forest fires to stock prices and the Internet search engines.

Sometimes described as the Nobel Prize of Mathematics, the Fields Medal is named after Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields and has been awarded since 1936. Smirnov was recognized for his work on the proof of conformal invariance of percolation and the planar Ising model – a mathematical model of ferromagnetism – in statistical physics. Smirnov’s work provided a solid foundation for important breakthroughs in the field.

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1970, Dr. Smirnov’s mathematical prowess became evident early on in his life: He won the International Mathematical Olympiads twice.

While in high school, Smirnov participated in Mathematics Olympiads and earned perfect scores. His other distinctions include the St. Petersburg Mathematical Society Prize (1997), the Clay Research Award (2001), the Salem Prize (2001), the Gran Gustafsson Research Prize (2001), the Rollo Davidson Prize (2002), and the European Mathematical Society Prize (2004). His research is supported by the European Research Council and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

“I think today is a very exciting day to work in mathematics. Science is a living discipline – there are still many theorems waiting to be proved, and a lot of interesting research is going on right now,” Smirnov said. “Moreover, recently the boundary between pure and applied mathematics has blurred, and there are many subjects which were developed for purely aesthetic reasons, but have found practical or scientific applications.”

Smirnov’s presentation will begin at 11:25 a.m., Tuesday, April 12, in the UT Dallas Activities Center, with students from Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding communities expected to attend.  At 10 a.m. the following day, Wednesday, April 13, in the Kusch Auditorium, Smirnov will give a technical lecture called, “Discrete Complex Analysis and Probability.”

“We are very honored that Dr. Smirnov has agreed to speak at the Clark Lecture. He is a true luminary in the field of mathematics and has contributed greatly to our understanding of critical percolation theory and probability theory,” said Dr. Michael Baron, professor of mathematics and a statistician at UT Dallas. “Moreover, it's important that the younger students will attend, and perhaps be inspired to further study the complexities of mathematics.”

Smirnov’s appearances at UT Dallas are sponsored by the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Anson L. Clark endowment. For additional information on either event, contact Diana Wilson-Willis at 972-883-4153 or by email.


Media Contact: Katherine Morales, 972-883-4321, kmorales@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, 972-883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Stanislav Smirnov

 

     Dr. Stanislav Smirnov won the Fields Medal, sometimes described as the Nobel Prize of Mathematics, in 2010.
Fields Medal (front)

 


About the Clark Lectures

The Anson L. Clark Memorial Lecture series began in 1971 and has drawn distinguished speakers to the UT Dallas campus every year since.  The lectures honor the memory of a remarkable individual who amassed a sizable fortune throughout a highly unusual and successful career – first, as an engineer, then as a physician at the Mayo Clinic and finally as a businessman in the oil and banking industries.  Clark’s philanthropic activities have for many decades supported scholarly endeavors at a number of Texas colleges and universities, including the Clark Summer Research Program and the Clark Presidential Scholarship at UT Dallas.

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