Interview with a mathematician: Ken Ono

Anthony Bonato interviews Ken Ono. A fascinating look into a scholar’s rage to live mathematics.

The Intrepid Mathematician

Ken Ono is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Emory University. His highly accomplished research program focuses on number theory, algebra, and combinatorics. Ken graduated from UCLA with his doctorate of mathematics in 1993. Before joining Emory in 2010, he has held several academic positions including one at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Ken received great recognition for his scholarship. His many awards and recognitions include a Sloan Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Presidential Career Award, National Science Foundation grants, and the National Science Foundation Director’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar Award. He is also a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

Apart from his mathematical work, Ken has been active in various media productions. Most notably he was associate producer and consultant for the movie The Man Who Knew Infinity based on the life of Ramanujan.  See my review from TIFF 15. The the featured image of this…

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The Submission of BIRS and Canada’s Mathematical Sciences Institutes to Canada’s Fundamental Science Review

The Mathematical Sciences are the foundation of any advanced research ecosystem, and Canada’s mathematical sciences institutes have been instrumental in supporting this ecosystem. They do so by providing scientific leadership, by developing coherent national strategies for mathematical and statistical discovery and innovation, by transcending geographic and disciplinary barriers, by maximizing provincial leveraging, by spearheading international partnerships, and by connecting the research enterprise with the imperatives of providing training and education at all levels.

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Saving the UBC Senate from itself

By Vinayak Vatsal, Professor of Mathematics, UBC



Much has been made at UBC on the subject of governance, sparked by such diverse issues as the sudden resignation of Arvind Gupta, the violation of academic freedom that occurred in the aftermath of the resignation, the university’s non-response to complaints of sexual assault, and the handling of a petition to ask for divestment from fossil fuels.

Most of the discussion has been focussed narrowly on the Board of Governors and senior administrators, since it is within their ambit that this series of unfortunate events lies. A vote of non-confidence in the Board was held, and more than 800 faculty members voted to censure the Board for its perceived failures.

But largely forgotten in the discussion are the facts that UBC is a bicameral institution, and that the UBC Senate is is endowed by the University Act with expansive powers to manage the academic affairs of the institution. In principle at least, the…

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Some unedited thoughts for Canada’s fundamental science review panel

The Government bureaucracy seems to be buckling under the sheer number of reviews that the liberal government is currently conducting. One of them is focused on “determining the strengths of our current arrangements and pinpointing gaps and bottlenecks in Canada’s research funding ecosystem.” This review is welcome and overdue, especially that its panel is chaired by the knowledgeable and straight shooter, David Naylor, and populated by a few distinguished scientists such as Robert Birgeneau and Art McDonald. I will be submitting and co-submitting more formal recommendations elsewhere, but yesterday’s CFREF announcements managed to shake me out of my blissed procrastination. Time to get a few ideas off my chest. Continue reading

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A life of mathematics and computation: Jon Borwein

by Anthony Bonato, Department of Mathematics – Ryerson University

The Intrepid Mathematician

There was sad news this week with the passing of Jonathan Borwein on Tuesday, August 2, 2016.

Jon Borwein in his lab at University of Newcastle, Australia.

Jon was a powerhouse mathematician and computer scientist who leaves behind a rich legacy. As a highly awarded scholar, his academic output was staggering: almost five hundred papers, twenty-eight books, and he supervised dozens of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.  His work spanned many areas within mathematics, such as analysis, optimization, financial mathematics, experimental mathematics, and high performance computing. He is also well-known for his work on computing digits of π, and the featured image of this blog is from one of his visualization experiments for that number.

I met Jon when he was Canada Research Chair at Dalhousie University. He was also Director of the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (AARMS). I was teaching an AARMS summer school course at Dalhousie, and my first…

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UBC’s new president is not a mathematician, but …

The last time I saw the fabulous Frances Bula, she said that she liked my tweets whenever I commented on mathematics and mathematicians. I think she really meant for me to leave the rest of the news and analysis to her and the pros. However, thanks to Stuart Belkin, I now have a chance to do both. I mention the Chair of the UBC Board because I hear that –fortunately I must say– he is the one in charge these days, including of the presidential search.  The remarkable choice of Santa Ono (yes Santa!) as UBC’s 15th president is nothing but a victory to those among us calling for a renewed spirit of research excellence, academic freedom, diversity, decency, humanity and fair-play among the UBC leadership, be it mid-level and up. Continue reading

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An open letter to Faye Wightman, Chair of the UBC Alumni Board of Directors


From Roger Francois, Professor, Canadian Research Chair, FRSC, UBC Alumni ’87 (PhD)

Dear Ms. Wightman,

I could not attend the meeting of the Board of Governors on April 14th because of a scheduling conflict but owing to the new openness of the board under the leadership of Mr. Belkin, I was able to view the proceedings later that evening. What I saw and heard encouraged me to believe that I was witnessing a new era of earnest dialogue between the various stakeholders of the university. The representatives for UBC students, faculty, and staff raised their cases frankly but respectfully, and the response from the board members conveyed the desire to build bridges and work towards addressing the concerns of the different constituencies of UBC.

It was therefore very unfortunate that this atmosphere of goodwill was partly clouded when you took the stage, although the silence that followed your rather condescending…

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