May 24, 2024

Abel Prize for Michel Telagrande, Tamer of Serendipity

Talagrande also contributed to the mathematical solution to the problem formulated by the theoretical physicist Giorgio Parisi – work for which Parisi won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001. In 1979, Parisi, now teaching at the University of Rome, proposed a complete solution to the structure of so-called spin glasses . This is a simple, abstract model of matter in which the magnetization of each atom tends to line up up or down depending on the magnetization of its neighbors.

An unconventional research career

Parisi's arguments were based on his strong physical intuition and followed steps that “mathematicians might consider magic,” says Talagrande. This includes, for example, n To create copies of the system – where n It is a negative number. Many researchers have doubted whether the Parisian proof can be carried out mathematically correctly. However, in the early 2000s, the problem was fully resolved in two different works, Once from Telagrande And Once by Francisco Guerraa mathematical physicist who also conducts research at the University of Rome.

Talagrande's rise to senior scholar was unconventional. He was born in Béziers, France, in 1952, and lost the sight in his right eye at the age of five due to retinal detachment. Although he grew up in Lyon and was an avid reader of popular scholarly magazines, he struggled at school, especially with the complex rules of French spelling. “I could never handle dictation.” He said this in an interview with Al Jarida magazine in 2019..

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The turning point came when he was 15, when he received emergency treatment for another retinal detachment, this time in his left eye. He had to spend a month in the hospital blindfolded and feared he would go blind. His father, a mathematics professor, visited him every day and occupied his mind with teaching him mathematics. This experience gave Talagrande a new focus. After his recovery, he became a very enthusiastic student and began to excel in national mathematics competitions.