Mathematicians & Conferences

This page features photographs from conferences I attended, starting with a meeting in honor of Roy Adler’s birthday at Yale in 1991. That is when I started a two year appointment as a Gibbs instructor at Yale. My mentor at Yale was Peter W. Jones. I was privileged to have many discussions with him, and with Shizuo Kakutani (bottom left in the photo), there. Kakutani was a mathematical giant, whose work influenced mathematical economics, ergodic theory, functional analysis and probability theory.

Kakutani told me that after Pearl Harbor, he took the last ship from the US to Japan. He was afraid the ship would be sunk, so wrote his latest theorems on pieces of paper that he sealed in bottles and through overboard. When he arrived in Japan, Kakutani met with Ito and Yosida, and they decided to choose a topic and collaborate on it. After some debate, they chose Brownian motion. They ended up working on it separately in a transformative way- Ito creating stochastic calculus, Kakutani developing the connection of Brownian motion and harmonic functions, and Yosida developing Semigroup theory.

In 1992, I was invited to a conference in Okayama, Japan entitled “New bases for engineering science.” In fact it was a top notch ergodic theory conference. The two engineers who participated felt a bit lost, until they found Yaakov Sinai, with whom they could discuss questions about strength of beams. On the last day the conference moved to Kyoto, a truly amazing city. The organizers arranged a tour for us of the fantastic gardens. Perhaps the earlier part of the conference was held in Okayama so participants would not be tempted to skip lectures and tour around….

Click on the photos to see captions