Jaffe to Give Fossum Lecture Friday

Harvard University professor Arthur Jaffe, one of the world's top scholars in the field of mathematical physics, will present the Robert and Robin Fossum Distinguished Lecture Series talk Friday, May 2, at the Beckman Institute.

Harvard University professor Arthur Jaffe, one of the world's top scholars in the field of mathematical physics, is this year's speaker for the Robert and Robin Fossum Distinguished Lecture Series. Jaffe will speak this Friday, May 2, in the Beckman Institute auditorium.

Jaffe is the Landon T. Clay Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Science at Harvard, as well as past President of American Mathematical Society, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jaffe's talk is titled "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Physics in Mathematics" and is summarized in this way: The intimate relations between physics and mathematics go back to the Greeks and before. In 1960 physicist Eugene Wigner marveled at the "Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences." Today the tables seem to have turned, with ideas from physics providing effective guideposts throughout mathematics. We recount part of the story of this amazing evolution.

According to his faculty Web page at Harvard, "Jaffe's major scientific work has been in the realm of understanding quantum theory and the mathematics that it inspires. Jaffe solved a fundamental question by showing the compatibility of special relativity, quantum theory, and interactions. With J. Glimm he constructed the first mathematically-complete and non-trivial examples of relativistic quantum field theories. Recently Jaffe's research has focused on the relation between super-symmetry and a new mathematical subject - non-commutative geometry - where one builds quantum space into the notion of space-time."

Jaffe's talk will be at 4 p.m. in the Beckman auditorium.

The Robert and Robin Fossum Distinguished Lecture Series is funded by Beckman Institute and Mathematics Department faculty member Robert Fossum and his wife Robin. It is an annual presentation featuring leading scientists from academics and business from a variety of fields.

This year's lecture coincides with Robert Fossum's retirement after serving for 44 years as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Illinois. The lecture will be followed by a "roast" of Fossum and a reception in the Beckman atrium.