谁说数学家不时尚 ? Cédric Villani

WHO SAYS MATHEMATICIAN IS NOT “À LA MODE” ?

https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/ykTUlq3YVG_wahGpwOUAJQ

Key Points:

  • Classe Preparatoire (预科班) – most rigorous and toughest math training (2 years) after high school.
  • Grande Ecole (大学校)
  • “Bourbaki school” – secretive Math club still exists today.
  • French Thinking
  • Ecole Normale Superieure where he spent 8 years (Graduate, PhD, Teaching assistant)
  • His PhD Advisor Pierre Louis Leon (Fields Medalist)
  • American universities use “Engineering Way” to train mathematicians, French is different.
  • IMO Math vs French Abstract Math
  • Paris is still a World Math Center
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Why Math is so Sexy?

Cédric Villani (Field Medal 2010) the French mathematician becomes a deputé (equivalent to Member of Parliament) in President Emmanuel Macron’s new party “En Marche” consisting of 90% non politicians.

His new revolution in French Primary School Math Education is introducing “Singapore Math” : the 1960s Chinese Secondary School One Math (算术 Arithmetic) modified by the ex-Nantah (南大, now Nanyang Technological University) Prof Lee Peng Yee (李秉彝) with the Polya Problem Solving Method aided by visual Model diagrams.

France excels in Abstract (aka New / Modern / Bourbaki) Math but poor in Applied Math, while Asian countries (China, Singapore, Korea, Japan etc) are opposite. This demonstrates clearly in the Asian 15-year-old students scoring Top PISA Math Tests & Math Olympiad Championships (even in the USA teams), while the French young Mathematicians (< 40 years old) take 1/3 of the world’s Field Medals – “the Nobel Prize of Math”.

It is ideal to combine the Asian (applied) Math pedagogy for Primary school (from 7 to 13 years old) math and the French (abstract) Math (eg. Set, Group, Ring, Field, Vector Space, epsilon-delta Analysis…) in high-school math (from 15 to 18 years old).

The wise Cédric Villani is just doing this Ideal Combination of “East and West” for French Primary School Math Education .

Note: In the video (12:12 mins) Villani described his “Eureka discovery” inspiration at 4 am in Princeton Institute of Advanced Math. The same experience found by many mathematicians eg. Poincaré, Zhang Yitang, etc. Read Villani’s book where he called this “Strange Head Voice” (definitely not hallucination!!) experience as “The direct phone call from God “.

New Book 2015: 《Birth of a theorem : a mathematical adventure》

By Cédric Villani, Fields Medalist (2010)

– Translated from the French by Malcolm DeBevoise – illustrations by Claude Gondard.” Villani, Cedric

Cédric Villani (Médaille Fields 2010) “Théorème Vivant”:

“La fameuse ligne directe, quand vous recevez un coup de fil du dieu de la mathématique, et qu’une voix résonne dans votre tête. C’est très rare, il faut l’avouer!”

The famous direct line, when you receive a ‘telephone call’ from the God of the Mathematics, and that a voice resonates in your head. It is very rare, one has to admit.”

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Singapore National Library: loan available at 13 branches (Central, AMK, Bishan, Toa Payoh, etc):
Call Number: English  510.92 VIL

Why French excel in math ?

Mathematics and quantitative finance, France

Since 1990, there have been 22 winners of the Fields Medal, widely regarded as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. Thirteen came from just two countries, Russia and France. Russia has more winners (seven), but more than twice the population, so the honours go to France, with six winners.

Cédric Villani, the 2010 Fields Medallist, cited national character. “Maths is an abstract way of looking at the world, which fits well with the French mentality. We apply algebra to everything.” Elite institutions help too. France’s brightest school leavers progress to the grandes écoles, which traditionally educate top scientists, administrators and presidents. For maths, you want Monsieur Villani’s alma mater, the École Normale Supérieure (ENS). All 10 French Fields Medallists learnt there. At ENS, no teacher can stay longer than 10 years. Instead of ancient dons, students get tutors at the forefront of mathematics. Many try, but only 40 mathematicians a year enter the ENS.

The French have applied their maths genius to the money markets too. The Financial Times business schools rankings suggest France leads the world in producing “financial engineering” experts, with six institutions in the top 10 masters courses in finance. France can thus claim to dominate quantitative finance, the highly mathematical specialism involved in about half of all financial trades.

They should thank Michel Crouhy. In 1986, at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales (EHESS) in Paris, he devised the world’s first masters course in financial engineering. “The business school students didn’t have good enough maths, so I said ‘Let’s take only maths graduates, engineers. I won’t have to spend forever explaining the equations.’ It worked; the EHESS still offers the world’s best finance masters course, according to the Financial Times.

“Americans told me they wanted to start a course like ours but they weren’t allowed,” says Crouhy. “Because US MBA programmes were so strong, the universities worried a finance masters would compete with their MBA and destroy the MBA’s franchise.” America’s hesitation seems to have cost them.