4th Heidelberg Laureate Forum 2016

What happens if you take some of the most brilliant minds in mathematics and computer sciences (Fields, Abel, Turing, Nevanlinna Prize Laureates) and bring them together with 200 young scientists?

This is exactly what’s at the heart of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (modelled after the similar annual Lindau Nobel meetings).
The result is a wonderful interaction between the young researchers and the laureates, creating some new scientific contacts and sparking ideas that might very well end up as the foundations of new research projects.

Sir Andrew Wiles' Lecture about Fermat's Last Theorem at the 4th HLF

Sir Andrew Wiles’ Lecture on Fermat’s Last Theorem at the 4th HLF, photo taken by Tobias Ried

Already the opening ceremony showed that bringing together young scientists and the laureates is core to the HLF. The ceremony was led in a very refreshing style by Prof. Günter Ziegler, head of the DMV, and included speeches by the Minister of Arts and Sciences of Baden-Württemberg, the president of the European Research Council, as well as the presidents of the price awarding organisations. They stressed the importance of scientific exchange, in particular between junior and senior scientists, and honoured the brilliant mind behind the creation of the HLF, the late Klaus Tschira.

The program of the HLF was a mix of scientific talks given by the Laureates, ranging all the way from abstract mathematics to applied computer science and engineering.
The scientific program was complemented by small workshops and a poster session, where I was able to present part of my own research to some of the participants. Even though this wasn’t my first poster presentation, it was nevertheless challenging, as this time most of the participants weren’t specialists in my field of research. However, this led to some very interesting discussions. The rest of the time was reserved for networking and scientific exchange.

The HLF also featured a ‘’hot topic’’, which this year was Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some of the world’s most distinguished researchers in AI presented progress, benefits, caveats and misconceptions of AI, which was then discussed in a podium. During the whole week, we were able to visit an exhibition on ‘’one of the most distinguished inventors of the computer’’ (quote Prof. Rojas, who presented the exhibition and the life of) Konrad Zuse, German entrepreneur and creator of one of the first mechanical computers.

I had very interesting conversations with the laureates, most notably a discussion about mathematical proofs with Leslie Lamport, a computer scientist who not only did his PhD in mathematics, but also created one of the most important tools a mathematician uses every day: LaTeX.

I am extremely grateful to the Klaus Tschira Stiftung, and the scientific committee for giving me the opportunity to attend the Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

During the whole week I got to know many young researchers, met some old friends, and had a wonderful time.

If you are a maths or computer science student (Master’s student, PhD student or PostDoc) interested in attending the meeting yourself, have a look at www.heidelberg-laureate-forum.org and apply for the 5th HLF!

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