IHÉS summer school online

The IHÉS Summer School on analytic number theory that I co-organized with Philippe Michel ended a few days ago. Even if the weather did not cooperate (rain, scorching heat, gloomy clouds), I think it went very well, although this is of course more for the participants to say…

I certainly learnt things myself, especially in the course of K. Soundararajan, who discussed (among other things) some recent works of his with M. Radziwiƚƚ that I had intended to read, without finding the time…

My own lectures were on trace functions over finite fields. It was the first occasion I’ve had to give more than one talk on this topic, and I used the opportunity to see which ideas could work for a good presentation of the basic ideas to analytic number theorists. I’m quite happy with the outcome, and this will be very useful since I will give courses on the subject during the next two semesters, which should provide at least some amount of notes and drafts for the book that É. Fouvry, Ph. Michel and mysefl are hoping to write.

For those who could not attend the event (which is probably a fair number of people, in view of the fact that an unfortunate independent-scheduling event led to it being simultanenous with the ENFANT/ELEFANT conference organized by L. Pierce and D. Schindler in Bonn), it is quite nice that the whole programme was filmed and is now available on Youtube on the IHÉS channel! (The ordering of the videos is a bit strange, but it is easy to use the descriptions to watch, for instance, all four of Sound’s lectures one after the other).

Bourbaki seminar online

Whenever I can, I like to attend the Bourbaki Seminar in Paris, but that’s not always feasible.

June 2014
June 2014

Of course, even without being present, the written text of the seminar is always available later to learn what the talks were about. But, especially when the subject is not close to something I know, it’s often much better to have seen first a one-hour presentation which distills the most important information, which may well be a bit hidden in the written text for non-specialists. So it is rather wonderful to see that, since last March, the lectures of the Bourbaki seminar are recorded and made available on Youtube on the channel of the Institut Henri Poincaré.

Here is the playlist for the March seminars, with lectures by Golse (on Bolztmann’s equation), Bolthausen (spin glasses), Benoist (curves on K3 surfaces) and myself (guess…), and here that of last Saturday, with lectures by A. Valette (the Kadison-Singer problem), Smulevici (general relativity), Hales (formal proofs) and Coquand (dependent type theory and univalent foundations; with Voevodsky, who was present, explaining at the end his choice of the word “univalent”).

The links to the videos (as well as links to the texts) can also be found on the web page of Bourbaki.

(There was also mention that the seminar was streamed as it happened, but I don’t know if that’s really the case; if yes, will fashionable bars in Manhattan and Princeton start opening at 4 A.M. on selected Saturdays to offer croissants, coffee, cognac, and the Bourbaki talks?)

On diplomats

Quizz: who wrote

Il a publié il y a deux ans (…) un ouvrage relatif au sentiment de l’Infini sur la rive occidentale du lac Victoria-Nyanza et cette année un opuscule moins important, mais conduit d’une plume alerte, parfois même acérée, sur le fusil à répétition dans l’armée bulgare, qui l’ont mis tout à fait hors de pair.

or, in translation:

He has published two years ago (…) a book concerning the feeling of Infinity on the occidental shore of the Victoria-Nyanza lake, and this year another booklet, less important but written with a lively, and even piercing, pen, on the repeating rifle in the bulgarian army, which have made him rather peerless.

This reminds of the curiously little-known hilarious “Antrobus stories” of diplomatic mishaps:

It was during one of those long unaccountable huffs between ourselves and the Italians. You know the obscure vendettas which break out between Missions? Often they linger on long after the people who threw the first knife have been posted away. I have no idea how this huff arose. I simply inherited it from bygone dips whose bones were now dust. It was in full swing when I arrived — everyone applying freezing-mixture to the Italians and getting the Retort Direct in exchange. (…) So while bows were still exchanged for protocol reasons they were only, so to speak, from above the waist. A mere contortion of the dickey, if you take me, as a tribute to manners. A slight Inclination, accompanied by a moue. Savage work, old lad, savage work!

(from “The game’s the thing”, where a soccer game between the English and Italian embassies rather degenerates.)

More things of the day(s)

(1) Today’s Word of The Day in the OED: afanc, which we learn is

In Welsh mythology: an aquatic monster. Also: an otter or beaver identified as such a monster.

Maybe the Welsh otters, like their rugbymen, are particularly fierce?

(2) Yesterday’s Google doodle, in Switzerland at least, celebrated the 57th birthday of Gaston Lagaffe


I’ve heard that Gaston


is mostly unknown to the US or English, leaving many people with no reaction to the mention of the contrats de Mesmaeker


or to the interjection Rogntudju!.


This lack of enlightenment is a clear illustration of the superiority of the continental mind.


Here are two forthcoming conferences that I am co-organizing with Philippe Michel this year:

(1) Quite soon, the traditional Number Theory Days (the eleventh edition of this yearly two-day meeting that alternates between EPF Zürich and ETH Lausanne), will be held in Zürich on March 7 and 8; the web page is available, with the schedule and the titles of the talks; the speakers this year are Raf Cluckers (who is also giving a Nachdiplomvorlesung at FIM on the topic of motivic integration and applications), Lillian Pierce, Trevor Wooley, Tamar Ziegler and (Tamar is probably happily surprised not to come last in alphabetical order!) David Zywina.
Anyone interested in participating should send an email to Mrs Waldburger as soon as possible (see the web page for the address).

(2) In July, intersecting neatly the last stages of the soccer world cup, and beginning in the middle of a week to avoid (thanks to some fancy footwork) starting on the 14th of July, we organize a summer school on analytic number theory at I.H.É.S; people interested in participating should follow the instructions on the web site. The detailed programme will soon be available.