6 out of 200: Beautiful problems
Meet Davi Obata in this Q&A series with 6 out of 200 mathematicians and computer scientists participating at the 3rd Heidelberg Laureate Forum, August 23–28, 2015. 26 Laureates (Abel Prize, Fields Medal, Nevanlinna Prize, Turing Award) will attend the forum together with them. For a full week Heidelberg in Germany will be the hot spot of mathematics and computer science.
Name? Davi Obata
Where are you based? Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
What is your current position? Technically I am a master student in pure mathematics at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), but in August I want to finish my master degree and then I will start my PhD.
What is the focus of your research? The main focus of my research is in the theory of Dynamical Systems and the Ergodic Theory. These theories try to understand how “things” evolve with “time” for a given law. The definition of “things” and “time” depends on your interest. For example, one could try to understand the motion of the planets under the action of the gravity, then in this case “things” would be the planets, the “time” would be continuous time and the given law would be the gravity force.
Currently I have three different projects that I am working on. The first has to do with the theory of continuous dynamics, specifically on the theory of star flow. The second is about the ergodic stability problem, which has to do with statistical properties of dynamical systems. And the third is about harmonic measures for foliations, which is more geometrical and has to do with ergodic theory of foliations.
Why did you become a mathematician? During high school I wanted to do something related to biology or physics. But once I started to study science, in an undergraduate level, I just fell in love with pure mathematics. The beauty of the arguments and the power of abstraction just caught me and that made me study pure mathematics.
Anything like a favourite project? This really is a hard question. For me it is as hard as deciding what my favorite food is. It is not possible to choose only one. I love all different subject areas in math. As in each different field there are several beautiful problems to be solved. One of the topics that I have been interested lately is trying to understand the real difference between discrete and continuous dynamics. There are several results that are true for diffeomorphisms that are not true for flows and it is not known yet what is the real difference between them.
In particular, I am very interested in how different areas of mathematics interact, for example the theory of dynamical systems for partial differential equations, geometry and dynamical systems and group actions on compact manifolds.
What about your life beyond research? I am a really active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons. I also love rock climbing, hiking and eating good food. Rio de Janeiro is an amazing place for rock climbing because we have mountains even inside the city. So I can easily wake up at 6 a.m. go rock climbing for 1 hour, take a shower and still make it to the university by 9 a.m. to study
Why did you apply for the HLF15? A very good friend of mine went last year and he told me so many great things about the event. Obviously the forum had a great impact on him and got him super motivated to do research and try even harder. I hope to come back with the same ambition.
What do you expect from this meeting? I expect to give me an amazing opportunity to interact with great people from other areas and obtain further knowledge. I also expect it to be a great inspirational moment that will motivate me to study even harder, to do my very best in my research
Any Laureates on your list you would definitely love to talk to? I would love to meet Sir Michael Atiyah, Endre Szemeredi, John Tate and Srinivasa Varadhan. They are from different areas of mathematics, but they all have amazing contributions that I find really interesting
Wish you an inspiring time in Heidelberg!