Acceptance Speech – Rome, 20.11.2014


Dennis Sullivan

2014 Balzan Prize for Mathematics (Pure/Applied)

For his major contributions to topology and the theory of dynamical systems, opening new perspectives for generations to come. For his exceptional results in many fields of mathematics, such as topology, geometry, the theory of Kleinian groups, analysis, and number theory.

Your Excellency and Distinguished Participants.

It is wonderful to be able to pursue the curiosities and puzzles that begin when one is a child. It is wonderful to be encouraged and supported as an adult to explore with childlike interest the curiosities and puzzles of science and mathematics. It is wonderful to experience the very occasional, exquisite pleasure of eventually understanding completely some small piece or part of these mysteries. Finally, it is really wonderful to have this searching way of life rewarded and acknowledged by the significant Balzan Prize.

I am excited by the research opportunity the Balzan Prize affords. With the efforts of a group of young researchers, I hope to organize serious practical testing of theoretical tools that we have been forging over a long time span. We want to know if these tools applied numerically might successfully predict where hurricanes hit a populated coastline, or the efficiency of the dispersion of pollutants that turbulence achieves, or the scale of vortex swirls created behind airplane wings.

It is fascinating and challenging that these questions are both mathematically intractable (at least up to now) and yet perhaps practically calculable.

I am grateful for the chance to bring very theoretical efforts to this practical test.
Thank you.

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