Der Beitrag What is the Riemann Hypothesis? erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>The Riemann Hypothesis was conjectured in 1859 by Bernhard Riemann, a mathematician working in analysis and number theory. It concerns a function called the Riemann Zeta function, which is defined as follows:Given an ‘input’ number s, to calculate the value of the function, you add together the numbers *1/1 ^{s}*,

A complex number is one of the form* a + ib*, where *i* is the square root of -1. Such numbers are considered to exist in a 2-dimensional plane, called the complex plane, with the “real” part a extending left-to-right like a normal number line, and another perpendicular axis extending vertically for the value of *b* – the “imaginary” part of the number.

Numbers in the complex plane can also be inputs to the Riemann Zeta function – for each point in this 2D plane you can evaluate what the function would be equal to for that input.

The thing analysts are often interested in when studying a function is where it’s equal to zero – these are points that give a nice insight into how the function behaves. For the Zeta function, there are plenty of known points that evaluate to zero, known as ‘zeroes of the function’. Infinitely many, in fact – every negative even integer will give the value zero, meaning there’s an infinite line of points spaced along the negative horizontal axis which all give zero when put through this function.

The only other points that have been found to make Zeta equal zero are on a different straight line in this diagram, called the ‘critical line’ – it’s the line where all the numbers have real part (*a*) equal to ½, so it’s a vertical line running just to the right of the imaginary axis. The first one of these (above the horizontal, going upwards) is at ½ + 14.134725…*i*, and they continue upwards, with identical zeroes at points below the line with negative equivalents of these values (½ – 14.134725…*i* and so on).

It’s been proven that infinitely many zeroes lie on this critical line, all with real value ½ and with no discernible pattern in their imaginary values, beyond the obvious vertical symmetry. Over 10,000,000,000,000 such zeroes have been computed numerically (initially by hand, and following work by Alan Turing in 1953, by computer), and billions of others have also been checked in the region around ½ + 10^{24}i. We also know that at least 40% of the zeroes of this function are on the critical line, and all the ones known so far are at irrational values of b – numbers that can’t be expressed as a fraction.

But what we don’t know is that there aren’t any others anywhere else – it can’t be proved that all the zeroes are either on the negative axis at even whole number points (these are know as the ‘trivial’ zeroes) or lie somewhere on the critical line. The Riemann Hypothesis is exactly this – the statement that all non-trivial zeroes of the Riemann Zeta function lie on the line a = ½.

People have been working on this problem for over 150 years, and as you would expect, some progress has been made towards a proof – other functions which have properties similar to the Zeta function can be studied, and a number of approaches including self-adjoint operators, random matrix theory, non-commutative geometry, statistical mechanics and even classification of quasicrystals have all been employed in attempts at a proof.

So what would happen if the Riemann Hypothesis was proved? The most straightforward consequence, if the least mathematically interesting, would be that the person to do it would be awarded one million dollars. The Riemann Hypothesis is one of the Millennium Prize Problems, a list of seven then unsolved questions in maths produced by the Clay Institute in 2000. To date, only one of these has been solved: the Poincaré Conjecture, by Grigori Perelman in 2003. Its inclusion on the list gives an indication of how important the result is considered among mathematicians.

The Riemann Hypothesis is closely related to the prime numbers – alternative formulations of the Zeta function involve stating it in terms of the prime numbers, and while these can’t be used to evaluate the function, it means that fully understanding the Zeta function could unlock some aspect of the as-yet-unknown patterns in the primes. Many results about primes have been proved on the condition that the Riemann Hypothesis is true. So a proof would deliver a large number of further important results ‘for free’.

Since modern encryption methods are based on prime numbers, there’s a popular idea that a proof of the Riemann Hypothesis would compromise this security – that it would literally (as it surely would figuratively) “break the internet”. An episode of the mid-2000s US TV series *Numb3rs* referred to this in an episode where the daughter of a mathematician who claimed to have a proof was kidnapped. Of course, the bare knowledge of the truth value of the hypothesis would have no such effect: any committed hacker would be perfectly happy with a method for compromising encryption that might be based on a false assumption, if it worked anyway. But if the techniques employed by a proof delivered a method for factorising large numbers quickly, such consequences might not be totally beyond the bounds of possibility.

Tomorrow at the HLF, mathematician and double Laureate Sir Michael Atiyah has announced he’ll be presenting “a simple proof using a radically new approach” of the Riemann Hypothesis. Such a proof would be huge news, and a big step forward for mathematics. We’re all looking forward to hearing what he has to say!

Der Beitrag What is the Riemann Hypothesis? erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Fighting online harassment – Amy Xian Zhang improves our social media environment erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>**What is your name and nationality?**

My name is Amy Xian Zhang and I am from the U.S.

**Where did you study and where are you currently based?**

Prior to my Ph.D., I completed an M.Phil. at the University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar in Computer Science. Before that, I completed a Computer Science B.S. at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Currently, I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.

**What is your current position?**

I am a 5^{th} year Ph.D. student in Computer Science at MIT in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL).

**What is the focus of your research? What is your research project?**

My research focus is how to design and build better online discussion systems, systems such as email, chat, social media, and forums. Particularly, I am interested in how these systems could better help everyday users to make sense of, moderate their experiences with, and make sound judgements of the large quantities of discussion-based information that they encounter every day. One project, Squadbox, is targeted at recipients of online harassment, and helps them leverage friends to moderate their inbox for them.

**Why did you become a computer scientist?**

My interest in computer science started in high school. At the time, I enjoyed the puzzle-solving nature of computer science problems we were given in school, as well as enjoyed the freedom and creativity that came with leveraging computer science to build whatever I wanted. At the time, this was a lot of web designs for other people’s blogs and social media. It wasn’t until senior year of college, however, that I began to really be interested in research and be fascinated by the design of social technology, including how it was weaving into and affecting almost every aspect of our lives.

**What are some of the fundamental challenges you have faced in your academic career?**

The biggest challenges during my Ph.D. thus far have mostly been around time-management, figuring out which projects are best to pursue out of many possible directions, and learning how to become a good manager and mentor to student researchers.

**What do you feel are the greatest pressures facing scientists today?**

One difficult aspect about being a scientist today, particularly one within academia, is the many responsibilities and opportunities that we are given or offered, whether it’s different research projects, teaching, mentoring, service, impact, or public outreach, so that it can be difficult to know what is the relative proportion of attention we should pay to each thing. It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling compelled to say yes to everything and also desiring to excel at everything we say yes to, which can lead to overwork and burnout.

**What are you doing besides research?**

I enjoy physical activity such as hiking, playing tennis, and indoor rock climbing. I enjoy relaxing with a good book, usually fiction. I am a bit of a news junkie. I like to travel to new places and sightsee.

**How did you hear about the HLF and why did you apply?**

A few people I know had attended in prior years and recommended it. I applied because I didn’t see much downside. It’s an opportunity to, in a short amount of time, meet many other young researchers as well as distinguished senior researchers in a relatively low-key and also beautiful setting.

**What do you expect from this meeting?**

I am most interested in meeting other young researchers and learning about their research and experiences in academia. I hope to both meet others that are working in similar areas as myself as well as people doing totally different things but that might spark new ideas from a conversation.

**Which laureates present at the forum would you really like to talk to and what do you want to ask them?**

It would be an honor to meet Ivan Sutherland, the inventor of the Sketchpad and one of the early pioneers of computer graphics and interactive interfaces. I would ask him what he thinks are the near and long-term applications of AR and VR for education, social interaction, civic and political discourse, and information work.

**Who were your most important mentors and what lessons did they pass on to you?**

All of my research advisors, including my undergraduate, masters, Ph.D., and several internship advisors, have been important mentors in my research thus far. From them, I learned about different ways to run a research lab or conduct a research project, I learned about each person’s unique tastes in research questions and directions, and I learned from their different writing styles. This has helped clarify my own research tastes and ways that I prefer to conduct work or write.

**As an expert on social computing: Which social media are most suitable for researchers to outreach the general public?**

For me, that has been Twitter. I have met many interesting people on Twitter including academics within my field, in other fields, as well as people completely outside of academia who are doing unusual things. There is a lot of great advice and conversations happening on Twitter, including advice for early-career academics, and even collaborations and project ideas are formed there.

Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Fighting online harassment – Amy Xian Zhang improves our social media environment erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag Women in Science at the HLF erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

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Der Beitrag Women in Science at the HLF erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: From NFL to MIT – John Urschel tackles clustering problems erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>**What is your name and nationality?**

My name is John Urschel and I am an American and Canadian citizen.

**Where did you study and where are you currently based?**

I am currently based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, finishing my PhD in mathematics at MIT.

**What is the focus of your research? What is your research project?**

My research is focused on graph theory and machine learning. Currently, I spend most of my time thinking about clustering problems and questions related to the travelling salesman problem.

**Why did you become a mathematician?**

When I went to university, I thought I would major in aerospace engineering, because my mother encouraged me to. However, I quickly found that my favorite courses were in mathematics, because they were more focused on the question of “why” than “how.” This spoke to my desire to understand concepts more than to simply use them. During my second year of university, I took part in my first research project (a variant of the three-body problem) and fell in love with research.

**What are some of the fundamental challenges you have faced in your academic career?**

I came to mathematics somewhat late, not focusing on it until I reached university, and so I still frequently encounter new subject areas that fascinate me. It has at times been difficult to commit to a limited number of fields of research, because I am constantly encountering interesting problems that make me want to delve into new areas.

**What do you feel are the greatest pressures facing scientists today?**

I think that the greatest pressure facing scientists is the pressure to publish and produce a steady stream of work. In my opinion, this is counter-productive in at least two ways. First, this leads scientists to publish work without spending as much time checking for errors and thinking about the best way to present an idea. Second, this deters scientists from taking on more ambitious projects, projects which might lead to fewer publications but might have greater impact or interest.

**What are you doing besides research?**

My wife and I recently had our first child in December 2017. Raising Joanna has been quite a time consuming but enjoyable endeavor. I also take part in a number of programs, both locally and globally, in order to introduce science to a broader audience. Also, as a true hobby, I enjoy playing chess.

**How did you hear about the HLF and why did you apply?**

I heard about this Forum both through my department at MIT and from a student who had previously attended and raved about the experience.

**What do you expect from this meeting?**

I am looking forward to having conversations with brilliant people from all over. I expect that we will have different areas of interest, experiences, and expertise, but that we will share a desire to learn and grow our understanding of the world.

**Which laureates present at the forum would you really like to talk to and what do you want to ask them?**

I would very much like to meet Sanjeev Arora. I would like to ask him about his more recent work in theoretical machine learning.

**Who were your most important mentors and what lessons did they pass on to you?**

Ludmil Zikatanov, my mentor at Penn State and my current collaborator, taught me how to be a mathematician, guiding me through my early years of research and publishing. My advisor at MIT, Michel Goemans, has been a model of rigor and precision.

**In your previous life you were a professional football player. What did your career as a NFL player teach you for being successful in academia?**

Being an NFL player requires resilience and a willingness to work extremely hard without always being certain what the result will be. That mindset has served me well so far in my career as a mathematician.

Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: From NFL to MIT – John Urschel tackles clustering problems erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: On the shoulder of giants – Jonas Bayer is starting his academic career erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>**What is your name and nationality?**

My name is Jonas Bayer and I’m from Germany.

**Where did you study and where are you currently based?
**I am currently in my undergraduate education as a bachelor student of mathematics at Jacobs University in Bremen. I really like the international community at our university with more than 100 different nationalities and I’m looking forward to meeting just as diverse people at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

**What is the focus of your research? What is your research project?**

The research I have done so far is mainly concerned with Hilbert’s tenth problem. This is one of the 23 questions that were posed in 1900 by the famous mathematician David Hilbert at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris. The tenth problem asked about Diophantine equations. These are polynomial equations like a²+b² = c² or 3x -5y³ = 0 with integer coefficients. Hilbert posed the question, whether there is a general process that allows one to determine the solvability of Diophantine equations in the integers. In 1970, the Russian mathematician Yuri Matiyasevich could finally answer this problem and showed that such a process does not exist.

Together with two other high-school students, I wanted to understand how the proof of Matiyasevich works and then we applied his theory to the Collatz-problem, which is also known as the 3n+1 conjecture. We managed to represent the Collatz problem as a polynomial in 3054 variables using a Computer Algebra System. Then we started a second project on whether one can optimize such polynomials, i.e. we looked for estimates on how many variables and what degree one needs for representing certain problems. Such optimization is expressed in pairs (v, d) of variable number v and degree d, where one aims at reducing both. For this question, answers already existed in the natural numbers that we then extended to the integers. Later we improved our first trivial process, which was technically challenging but lead to interesting new and stronger results.

**Why did you become a mathematician?
**Originally, I wanted to study computer science, as programming was always a lot of fun to me during high school. When he gave a talk on his research at my high school, I got to know Prof. Dierk Schleicher. He later convinced me that studying mathematics would give me a more fundamental view on abstract concepts – which I could also experience in the mathematical research I was doing then. Finally, I decided to become a mathematician – still I’d say I am also very interested in (theoretical) computer science.

**What are some of the fundamental challenges you have faced in your academic career?
**So far, I can only look back on one year of undergraduate education, which never became boring. The biggest challenge was probably to not only keep up with weekly homework but to also find time to invest in the research that I mentioned above.

**What do you feel are the greatest pressures facing scientists today?
**At a conference that I attended a few weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with Prof. Barry Jay from the University of Technology, Sydney. He said that the currency of economics is money and the currency of science is truth. Using that picture, I would say that our currency devalued in the last years. It is a challenge for all scientists to work against this development and to explain to all people why our methods allow us to draw the conclusions that we make.

**What are you doing besides research?
**I have been playing the piano since I was 6 and it is still something I enjoy doing in my free time. Moreover, I like ballroom dancing a lot and joined the ballroom dancing club at our university.

**How did you hear about the HLF and why did you apply?**

Interestingly, the HLF already made some impact on my personal development in the last two years. Although I live quite close to Heidelberg, I had not heard of the HLF before 2016. In that year, I got to know Prof. Dierk Schleicher at an international mathematics competition. When back in Germany, I decided that it would be nice to meet again with the competition team and when the HLF took place in September, Dierk was in Heidelberg for the HLF. So, we met to discuss and organize such a meeting. When it took place a few weeks later we started to look at the work of Matiyasevich – and our first research began.

**What do you expect from this meeting?
**Last summer I went to the Summer School of Modern Mathematics in Bremen, which is also very international as the Heidelberg Laureate Forum. It was great to meet many interested young researchers and to hear their stories, which I am looking forward to in Heidelberg, too. Moreover, I am excited how the talks by the laureates will be and to hear about very recent research that was awarded Fields medals.

**Which laureates present at the forum would you really like to talk to and what do you want to ask them?
**I would really like to talk about some of the fundamentals of mathematics: How will the concept of ‘proof’ develop? With new methods such as computer verification, which also has a wide range of applications in computer science, mathematics can be put on another basis. I think this is a topic that will be interesting to discuss with all the Laureates.

**Who were your most important mentors and what lessons did they pass on to you?
**There is one person that is so essential to my personal development, that I just could not write this interview without mentioning him before – Dierk Schleicher. Without him, I would not have applied to the HLF, done all the research that I did or studied at the same place. I think one lesson that I learned from him is that if you do cool things, you will always find a way to pursue them, no matter what barriers you stumble across.

**Why is Hilbert’s Tenth Problem worth studying from a practical point of view?
**It turns out that many mathematical questions have a formulation in terms of Diophantine equations – which makes Hilbert’s tenth problem interesting, as it tells something about the structure of mathematics itself: For certain kinds of problems there is just no general way to solve them all. This is definitely an interesting result that is ‘practical’ for mathematics, however, I am not aware if there are any applications in other subjects.

Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: On the shoulder of giants – Jonas Bayer is starting his academic career erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Bringing math to the people – Chinwendu Emilian Madubueze loves teaching erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>**What is your name and nationality?**

Chinwendu Emilian Madubueze, I am Nigerian.

**Where did you study and where are you currently based?**

I studied Industrial Mathematics at the University of Benin, Nigeria. I did MSc, Mathematics at the same university. I just rounded up my PhD in Mathematics at the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria and awaiting my certificate.

**What is your current position?**

I am a faculty member of my department at the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria. I am looking forward to a postdoctoral position in mathematical epidemiology or biostatistics.

**What is the focus of your research? What is your research project?**

I am working on the mathematical modelling of infectious diseases such as Ebola virus disease (EVD). The EVD model incorporates some control measures such as contact tracing and quarantine in order to study their effects. The asymptotic stabilities, both local and global stabilities of the model are proved to exist. The sensitivity analysis approach is applied to the model to determine the model parameters that have the highest impact on the disease. This will help in developing a policy that will control the spread of EVD.

**Why did you become a mathematician?**

In elementary school, I realized in grade four that mathematics is my best subject. I used to read elementary six mathematics textbooks in class four. I was always the best in mathematics in my class, to the extent that most of the friends I had came to me for help. When I got admitted to the university, my family advised me against studying mathematics but I insisted it is either mathematics or nothing. I was made to promise to excel in mathematics as a precondition, which I achieved at the end.

I cannot think of studying anything that is not mathematics related. Coming across some many theorems named after some great mathematicians, I am working hard to have my theorem. Explaining mathematics to the understanding of fellow students had always been my pastime. I encourage most of my classmates to like mathematics especially women who think mathematics is meant only for men.

I always had this desire to teach Mathematics after my undergraduate days. Before one year compulsory service to my nation, I started teaching in secondary school. During another year of voluntary service, I had the opportunity to teach foundational mathematics to diploma and first year students. This prompted me to start a Master of Science in mathematics. I attended a conference by The Nigeria Association of Mathematical Physics during my M.Sc. which challenged me to specialize in Biomathematics because I learnt that mathematics can help eliminate infectious diseases. Biomathematics is a multidisciplinary field and I am always happy when I come across students studying Mathematics, the centre of all sciences.

**What are some of the fundamental challenges you have faced in your academic career?**

My earliest challenge has to do with my background. I had to hawk fruits to support my education and family. It was very difficult because I had no time to do home works. Furthermore, as a mother, family responsibilities such as pregnancy, nursing babies and raising children prevented me from attending many academic events. Thus, balancing career with family responsibilities has not been easy.

Additionally, gender bias such as the thinking that male counterparts are better in mathematics than female counterparts deprived one a lot of opportunities. There was also the problem of the lack of a female mentor in mathematics in my department.

**What do you feel are the greatest pressures facing scientists today?**

The greatest pressures facing scientist today include poor facilities, lack of funding and opportunities for self-development, especially in poor resource countries.

**What are you doing besides research?**

I love teaching and mentoring students in mathematics. I am fascinated by travelling, meeting people from diverse backgrounds, learning new things and observing nature in general. I love listening to good music, dancing, watching movies and cooking.

**How did you hear about the HLF and why did you apply?**

I heard it from a fellow colleague who attended the fifth HLF. I applied because I want to learn new things from renowned scholars.

**What do you expect from this meeting?**

I expect to meet researchers with similar interests with whom I can collaborate with in future. I am hoping to find a postdoctoral host in mathematical epidemiology, too.

I would love to talk to laureates in my area of research.

**Who were your most important mentors and what lessons did they pass on to you?**

My most important mentors are Professor Emmanuel O. Oghre and Dr. Lami Nnamonu. Professor Emmanuel O. Oghre taught me the value of hard work and resilience while Dr. Lami Nnamonu helped me learn how to balance my career with family and the need to embark on self-development through attending conferences and workshops.

**What is your ambition to teach others? Do you think being both, an excellent teacher and researcher at the same time is a goal conflict in the present system?**

It had long been my childhood dream to teach people mathematics and I am already doing that. I strongly believe that being an excellent teacher and researcher at the same time is not a goal conflict in the present system. This is because both will complement each other for an effective learning experience. Furthermore, being an excellent teacher and researcher will make more impact on the mentee as a knowledge transfer would be. This is one of the differences between academics in rich countries and poor resource countries.

Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Bringing math to the people – Chinwendu Emilian Madubueze loves teaching erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag Katherine Johnson erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Last month, mathematics celebrated the 100th birthday of one of its most brilliant and successful proponents – Katherine Johnson, whose achievement of reaching the age of 100 pales in comparison to the work she has done in her lifetime, and the barriers to success she’s faced and overcome during that time.

Born in West Virginia on 26th August 1918, Katherine was a promising mathematician from a very early age, completing high school at 14 and graduating with degrees in mathematics and French at 18. This was during the time of racial segregation in the USA, so her schooling took place in segregated ‘black-only’ schools and colleges, but she received expert tuition from brilliant professors, including chemist and mathematician Angie Turner King, and W. W. Schiefflin Claytor, the third ever African American to receive a PhD in mathematics. Johnson was a brilliant student, completing all the math courses offered by the college, to the point that Clayton created extra courses – including one on analytic geometry – just for her.

After working as a teacher, raising three children and caring for her terminally ill first husband, she wanted to go into research mathematics, and in 1953 was offered a job by the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), later to become NASA. Katherine worked as a computer – literally, as part of a team which manually computed and verified the answers to mathematical problems, before digital computers were good enough to do this reliably. The team processed data from black box recorders, and analysed topics such as gust alleviation for aircraft – studying how to make corrections to the flight controls to account for incoming uneven winds, and maintain equilibrium in unstable conditions.

Katherine’s brightness was recognised by her superiors, and she was reassigned to the Guidance and Control Division of Langley’s Flight Research team, and then later to the Spacecraft Controls Branch, working with a team of otherwise exclusively white, male engineers. Segregation laws were still in place at this time, meaning Johnson had to use separate dining areas and toilets than her colleagues.

She also felt discrimination due to her gender – despite working on papers equally with others, it took a fight to get her name added as an author, and hers was the first woman’s name to be included as co-author on a published technical report in the Space Flight Division. By being assertive and standing their ground, as well as delivering brilliant work, Johnson and her colleagues managed to change the status quo and get more recognition and respect.

During her career, Johnson worked on many crucial space missions, including the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard – the first American in space, as well as on Apollo 11 (the moon landing) and Apollo 13. Katherine calculated the trajectory for Shepard’s first space flight, and the launch window for his Mercury mission later that year. Astronaut John Glenn was so impressed with her work, he requested she personally verify the calculations on his orbital mission. The calculations she was doing, some of which incorporated early use of digital computers, allowed teams to quickly find capsules after they landed, based on accurate trajectory calculations.

In the 2016 film Hidden Figures, which tells the story of Johnson and her colleagues at NASA, as well as the struggles they faced, one gripping scene shows Johnson arguing for the use of Euler’s method to calculate the flight trajectory. One of the engineers describes this method as ‘ancient’ – it was published by Euler in one of his books in the late 1700s, so that’s a fair assessment – but Johnson defends the method as suitable for what they need.

Differential equations describe complex systems, like a capsule moving through space – there will be many gravitational fields acting on it at once, as well as the forces acting on it due to its own motion. The coupled differential equations describe the system, and how all the forces interact, in terms of a set of variables.

The solution to a differential equation will be a curve – a path described by an equation relating all the relevant variables – and it’s often not possible to get an explicit function that describes this curve by looking at the differential equations themselves. For simple examples, this can be done using calculus, but in general it can be impossible.

Euler’s method exploits the fact that on small scales, it’s possible to calculate numerically what the curve looks like in very small sections, using the differential equations. By taking a set of points along the length of the curve, and at each point getting the position of the curve and the angle of its slope, it’s possible to reconstruct the curve – by connecting the dots – with a reasonable degree of accuracy. This was Johnson’s suggestion: using centuries-old mathematics to put humans in space.

The scene features prominently in the film, despite containing some pretty serious mathematics, which is unusual for a Hollywood blockbuster. Rudy Horne, one of the mathematics advisors on the film, described it to the director who was so inspired by this display of Johnson’s brilliance, he immediately included it in the script.

Katherine Johnson has received many awards and honorary doctorates in recognition of her achievements, and in 2017 the Katherine G Johnson Computational Research Facility in Hampton, Virginia was named in her honour. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, as a pioneering example of an African-American woman in STEM. West Virginia University have an endowed STEM scholarship in her name, and a life-sized statue of her on campus, which was unveiled on her 100th birthday.

Johnson is a shining example of mathematical brilliance, and we are lucky that her mathematical skills were accompanied by dogged persistence and a willingness to push back against the oppressive system she found herself in. There must have been many more examples of amazingly talented mathematicians who didn’t get the same opportunity to use their abilities in this way, and if we can endeavour to offer opportunities to everyone equally, hopefully we’ll see many more people, and projects like the space programme, succeed.

Der Beitrag Katherine Johnson erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Crossing the gender minefield – Tayyaba Nafees makes our internet safer erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>**What is your name and nationality?**

I am Tayyaba Nafees from Pakistan.

**Where did you study and where are you currently based?**

I did my BSc in computer science at Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan, my MSc in software engineering from National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan and then won a Global Development Scholarship to do MSc in software engineering from the University of Bradford. I have recently received my PhD from Abertay University, Scotland.

**What is your current position?**

I am starting my journey as an entrepreneur, applying my PhD to commercially promising cybersecurity innovation, using expertise out of the university laboratory and spinning it as a commercially viable product to solve real industrial cybersecurity problems. Recently, I secured a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship 2018, which will help me to turn my promising science and technology researcher qualities into a successful entrepreneurship.

**What is the focus of your research? What is your research project?**

Insecurities in software development practices happen due to lack of awareness of up-to-date cybersecurity issues which create vulnerabilities that can potentially be exploited by malicious hackers. My research has developed a usable knowledge transfer technique called “Vulnerability Anti-Pattern” to bridge this knowledge gap and help the software industry to develop the skills to create secure software systems.

**Why did you become a computer scientist?**

My ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning to solve complicated problems led me to become a computer scientist. The field of computing gives me the inspiration to cross the gender minefield and extend my natural problem-solving abilities. The sky is the limit for my enquiring mind to look ahead in the field of Cybersecurity.

**What are some of the fundamental challenges you have faced in your academic career?**

I do not fit the common stereotype of a software engineer and ethical hacker as I am female and Muslim and come from a ‘developing country’. It has been challenging to be accepted into the cybersecurity community which is heavily male-dominated and, in the UK, there is a close social community and a strong drinking culture associated with people studying and working in this line of work.

Starting my career in software engineering at home, I also faced societal disapproval and resentment for breaking out of religious and traditional social expectations. My father has always been supportive but the overall society in Pakistan is not as liberal in its mindset.

In order to overcome many of these challenges, I made the active decision to go abroad to further my education in the United Kingdom which brought its own challenges. I worked hard to secure scholarships to help fund my education. In doing this I have also had to fight the social stigma of being a single woman, travelling, living and studying without male supervision. Such challenges give me the motivation to keep moving on with an optimistic attitude.

**What do you feel are the greatest pressures facing scientists today?**

The radical pace in which the world and technology changes means that it is hard to keep up.

Not every country is at the same stage of scientific development, or acceptance (political or religious).

Cybersecurity is also a very secretive world. Although there is a ‘world-wide web’ every country has different laws and standards regarding cybersecurity and privacy. It is hard to merge all the research from around the world with these local restraints.

**What are you doing besides research?**

I am a good squash player and play within Dundee University women team. In addition, I love to explore nature and take my time out to do mountain hiking in the beautiful Scottish hills.

**How did you hear about the HLF and why did you apply?**

I got an email from ACM regarding the HLF. Being a young researcher in the field of cybersecurity, the HLF is a great venture for me to enlarge my contact network by meeting, not only, the laureates but also a large number of motivated young researchers in computer science and mathematics. Engaging others with my captivating, personal accounts is an invaluable endorsement via HLF.

**What do you expect from this meeting?**

Through the HLF, I will get the exclusive possibility to profoundly connect with my scientific role models such as Jeffrey A. Dean and Butler W. Lampson. I want to find out how these laureates made it to the top of their fields. HLF is a launchpad to collaborate with other influencing young researchers. HLF Forum will help me to learn how to be a better scientist and global contributor, ready to take on humanities’ grand challenges.

I would love to have a chat with Whitfield Diffie, Jeffrey A. Dean, Butler W. Lampson.

My question for Butler W. Lampson and Jeffrey A. Dean: How can artificial intelligence techniques and cybersecurity information merge to solve inherent cyber-attacks and security issues? How can this help software developers to design a secure system?

**Who were your most important mentors and what lessons did they pass on to you?**

Professor Daniel Neagu, University of Bradford, Dr. Natalie Coull, Abertay University and Prof. Dr. Shoab Ahmad Khan, NUST, Pakistan. I was most struck that all of them advised me that I should enjoy my journey as a researcher. There is always a fear of failure but if you can turn your fears into a positive energy that is key to success. The important lesson I learnt is to have patience and be consistent to get successful results.

**After being confronted with stereotypes and social expectations for so many years, what would you recommend young people feeling the same pressure to do?**

Always remain true to your passion, no matter the barriers. Have faith in yourself and believe in your abilities. Use your cultural resources to help you when you are feeling challenged. Don’t stop as hard work is a key to success.

Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Crossing the gender minefield – Tayyaba Nafees makes our internet safer erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Diagnosis via app – Baye Gaspard uses machine learning to fight respiratory diseases erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>**What is your name and nationality?**

I am Baye Gaspard, from the Extreme-North region of Cameroon commonly called Maroua. I am a Cameroonian.

**Where did you study and where are you currently based?**

After my advanced level certificate obtained from Government bilingual high school (GBHS) Garoua, I continued my education at National polytechnic (NPB) Bamenda. I obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in telecommunications engineering in NPB. I received an award from the president of the republic as the best student in my department for the HND. Then, I went to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) University, where I obtained my bachelor of science in ICT. I received 7 awards, one of them was an award for the overall best graduating male student in ICT-University. Currently, I am based in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

**What is your current position?**

I am a B.Sc. Holder in ICT.

**What is the focus of your research? What is your research project?**

My research deals with creating a machine learning algorithm that will help diagnose, detect, prevent and even predict respiratory diseases in a shorter time in Africa. We are currently working on a mobile app called “Diagnos”. Diagnos is a mobile health solution that uses big data and artificial intelligence to provide a rapid diagnosis, detection, prediction and prevention of respiratory diseases. The device provides a free top-line consult in less than 10 minutes, predicting future problems, providing advice and connecting patients with doctors. Thousands of our relatives are dying when they acquire one of the respiratory diseases, if we can rapidly diagnose, predict and prevent them, it will save lives.

**Why did you become a computer scientist?**

Since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated by science. I usually asked myself thousands of questions like what actually constitutes the sky, why is it blue but not red or green, what can be found above the sky, how does light reach earth, why do we have days and night but not complete daylight, why do we see stars only at night, why do we fall sick, what mechanism is behind the facts that our wounds heal, and many others. Sometimes I try to imagine the answers by myself. When I went to high school, I started understanding the science of nature and could answer some of my questions. But I was not satisfied, I still tried to inquire more till I fell on the branch of science called computer science, especially artificial intelligence, as it is the ability to create a software that could be some sort of a “man-made brain” so it can reason on its own. I fell in love with this field and decided to stick to it as this field really has a great impact on our today’s economy.

**What are some of the fundamental challenges you have faced in your academic career?**

The transition from telecommunication engineering to ICT was the greatest challenge I have ever experienced in my life. My first day on campus was not easy. I was seeing lots of new terms and concepts, especially programming. In the beginning, it was difficult to adapt, but I took the challenge to learn all of these new concepts spending lots of sleepless nights until I became very comfortable with them. At the end of the program, I was the overall best graduating student in ICT University. From that time on I can learn any new concept or programming language or course on my own without any difficulties.

**What do you feel are the greatest pressures facing scientists today?**

Scientists are very worried about the extinction of the human race on earth. That’s the reason why they are finding alternatives to earth by exploring other planets like Mars and others. Global warming and other factors are becoming alarming. So they tend to develop solutions like humanoids or robots which can explore the universe in the quest for new planets that could support human lives with similar climatic and atmospheric conditions like that of the earth.

**What are you doing besides research?**

I am the eldest in my family, so I need to help my family and my siblings need to go to school. So, I need to work in order to do that. I am working in ATR (All Threat Restricted) cyber, an information security company as a software security engineer.

**How did you hear about the HLF and why did you apply?**

I was searching for international forums online via google. Then I fell on HLF. I read from the site, those accepted will meet inventors like Diffie, who is one of the greatest icons in cybersecurity as he and Hellman created the Diffie-Hellman key used in cryptography today. This drove my appetite for the forum, then I applied.

**What do you expect from this meeting?**

Meeting and discussing with these great inventors to know how they did it and share their experience. Also, I am looking for opportunities, networking, maybe even work or scholarships to further my education.

Of course Mr. Diffie. I will first congratulate him for the incredible work he brought in the world of cybersecurity. Then ask if he could accept me to be his assistant despite my small knowledge of AI, I can propose some AI related solutions in cybersecurity.

**Who were your most important mentors and what lessons did they pass on to you?**

I met Mr. Aun Sharma during the 10Academy program, which is an intensive post-graduate programme which will identify, train and launch extremely high potential young African university graduates into careers where they have the opportunity to have extraordinarily large (10x) impact. During this program, he used to tell us that “If you’re going to be in the room, be useful”. He made us know that it’s been incredibly important while building a startup where things only happen if you make them happen.

Janet Fofang was my first mentor. I’ve known her since 2015. I spent nearly every day with her. She is my closest mentor and friend. I learnt a lot from her. She was at the same time my mentor, mother, best friend, coding partner, learning partner etc. She used to tell me “Make something people want.” Meaning if I needed to create a product, I needed to consider designing it from the user’s view point.

**How many people benefitted from your service Diagnos already? Do you think your service is scalable to screen the whole world population?**

Presently, Diagnos is at the prototype level. We have already tested the app during our beta testing period. During this phase, we detected 67 cases out of 100 giving a 67% success rate. We don’t yet have enough capital to make it for patients in Cameroon and later in the whole world. Still, the product is designed to meet the world standard, such that in the long run it can be scaled up to reach every country in the world. Our vision is a world free of death caused by respiratory diseases by 2050.

Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Diagnosis via app – Baye Gaspard uses machine learning to fight respiratory diseases erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Between verifiability and privacy – Vasilios Mavroudis makes sense of our data erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

]]>**What is your name and nationality? **

My name is Vasilios Mavroudis and I grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece. I am a Greek and an Australian citizen.

**Where did you study and where are you currently based?**

I finished my B.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Macedonia, Greece and then received my M.Sc. in Information Security from University College London (UCL) in the UK.

**What is your current position?**

I am currently based in London pursuing my PhD at UCL.

**What is the focus of your research? What is your research project?**

My PhD research explores cryptographic schemes for *privacy-preserving statistics*. It is often the case that given a set of sensitive data, we want to extract useful statistical insights about the data (as a whole) without accessing any individual records. My research focuses on methods that perform statistical computations on encrypted inputs. As an extension of that, I am also looking into *public verifiability*: Upon the release of the privacy-preserving statistics, public verifiability enables everyone to verify the integrity of the reported results, without any access to sensitive data. The intersection of those two requirements (public verifiability and privacy) makes the problem even more challenging and interesting.

**Why did you become a computer scientist?**

I was attracted by the applied nature of computer science and the immediate impact it has on our daily lives. I truly enjoy the fact that a single researcher can design and implement a solution to an important problem, from anywhere in the world, using only their laptop. This accessibility of the field differentiates computer science from other disciplines, as even people with no formal training or education can contribute their ideas and make a difference. Having said that, I am fascinated by science in general. I believe that science is a continuum and the different disciplines are all intertwined, extending each other.

**What are some of the fundamental challenges you have faced in your academic career?**

Due to the recent popularity of computer science, the field became quite “noisy”. This noise makes it often even harder to crystalize problems that matter and identify the areas where solutions should be sought. A prime example is “Blockchains”. Blockchains are a relatively new tool that recently became popular and a practical solution to very specific problems (e.g., data integrity). However, because of all the excitement that surrounds this new technology, there are many attempts to use blockchains to solve problems that can be solved, more efficiently, with other established tools. Moreover, the landscape became extremely politicized with various for-profit groups promoting their spin of the technology. This trend is expected to eventually subside, once a consensus is reached regarding the uses and applications of the blockchain technology.

**What do you feel are the greatest pressures facing scientists today?**

A career in science provides a lot of flexibility and mental space to design and pursue one’s own projects and ideas. However, scientists are often faced with the pressure of constantly publishing a steady stream of papers. This disincentivizes more risky projects that may take a few years to mature or projects that have a higher risk of producing a negative result. Moreover, in the System and Information Security field, negative results are rarely published. All these hinder the exploration of less-understood areas and drive scientists to pursue more straightforward and potentially less ambitious projects.

**What are you doing besides research?**

One of my favorite things to do is side projects. Some of them diverge completely from my main research focus, while others still lie within the computer security and privacy realm. For instance, we recently formed an interdisciplinary team to design a game-based approach that teaches the basics of security and privacy to non-experts. A list of my past and present projects can be found on my website. I would be very happy to hear from anyone with fresh ideas for cool, new projects! Besides these, I enjoy playing the guitar and the serenity of mountain hikes.

Building bridges to connect otherwise distant fields is often the first step to ground-breaking research. At the HLF, I will seek to learn more about laureates’ experiences in conducting interdisciplinary research. For example, if I have the chance to meet Ron Rivest, I would ask him about the methodological challenges he may have encountered when coming up with his groundbreaking and often counterintuitive schemes. For instance, Ron Rivest is well-known for his contribution to the RSA scheme, but, in my opinion, his ThreeBallot verifiable voting scheme is equally remarkable as it provides privacy and verifiability without the use of encryption. As explained to me by the friend who prompted me to apply for this year’s HLF, there is a good balance between seminars and environments for spontaneous conversations, such as coffee and lunch breaks. In my experience, these can lead to future collaborations and a genuine exchange of knowledge. It was through such a discussion that I became aware of Cryptool, an open-source encryption tool, while I was still an undergraduate student. I decided to give it a try and after spending some time playing with it, I eventually managed to find a bug in the implementation of one of the algorithms. As a result, I got to work with the security division of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt for 6 months and get my hands on even more challenging encryption problems with practical implications. I’m sure that HLF will be an incredible opportunity to discuss the future of computer science and engage in fruitful discussions with both prominent and young scientists.

**What is Cryptographic Hardware in one sentence and how do you think this technology is going to change the world?**

Cryptographic Hardware is your credit card, your sim card, and the military grade chip that a satellite may use to protect sensitive data and encrypt its communications.

Cryptographic Hardware has already changed the world and the way we do things, multiple times. Each time it enabled what was previously impossible. For instance, it allows users to be certain that no one can use a lost debit card without the owner’s PIN. It also protects communications by making it impossible for anyone to overtake a phone number without the owner’s SIM card and PIN. As rule of thumb, a technology can be considered successful, when it is taken for granted by its users. As discussed above, there are many examples of cryptographic hardware so deeply embedded into popular culture that we don’t even think about the technologies that make them possible.

Der Beitrag 10 out of 200: Between verifiability and privacy – Vasilios Mavroudis makes sense of our data erschien zuerst auf Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

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