a dispatch from the fourth annual Heidelberg Laureate Forum
One of the hardest things about research in technical fields: Explaining what the heck it is that you do.
The natural sciences have it easy: they study physical, tangible things. Perhaps those things are weird and exotic (bosons, mRNA, kangaroos, etc.) but hey, at least they’re things.
Mathematicians and computer scientists face a taller order. They study concepts, processes, algorithms. The “things” they research aren’t really things at all: they’re creations of rigorous human thought, abstract structures of logical language.
Not so easy to explain.
So as they sipped on coffee and Coke, waiting for the HLF opening ceremony to begin, I ambushed seven young researchers and goaded them into explaining their work to me. Characterizing your specific research can be simply too hard, so I gave them a slightly broader invitation: On a single piece of paper, illustrate what your research area is about.
Here is what they (very gamely!) contributed:
From Tetiana Klychmuk, studying linear algebra in Ukraine:
From Opeyemi Aborisade, studying cryptography in Senegal:
From Mariia Fedorova, studying automata in Ukraine:
From Collins Amburo Agyingi, studying topology in South Africa:
From Gilbert Bernstein, studying computer graphics in the USA:
From Pacome Ambassa, studying information security in South Africa:
And from Haji Ali, studying mobile health systems in South Africa: