Robert Phelan Langlands (born October 6, 1936) is a Canadian mathematician. He is best known as the founder of the Langlands program, a vast web of conjectures and results connecting representation theory and automorphic forms to the study of Galois groups in number theory. He is an emeritus professor and occupies Albert Einstein's office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
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"Mathematical retrospections," 2013
Robert Langlands. "Mathematical retrospections," in: Mariana Cook ed. (2013), Mathematicians: An Outer View of the Inner World.
- Although there are at present many occupations that require a good deal of skill and training in advanced mathematics, mathematics itself is still often regarded as a curious profession demanding singular talents and a singular personality.
- p. 142
- Mathematical maturity is anyhow an uncertain concept, for the mind’s natural competence seems to change with age, its purview variable.
- p. 142
- What I have achieved has been largely a matter of chance. Many problems I thought about at length with no success. With other problems, there was the inspiration—indeed, some that astound me today. Certainly the best times were when I was alone with mathematics, free of ambition and of pretense, and indifferent to the world.
- p. 142
Quotes about Robert Langlands
- Langlands' life has been by no means as extravagant as Grothendieck's, but his romanticism is evident to anyone who reads his prose; the audacity of his program, one of the most elaborate syntheses of conjectures and theorems ever undertaken, has few equivalents in any field of scholarship.
- Michael Harris (18 January 2015). Mathematics without Apologies: Portrait of a Problematic Vocation. Princeton University Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-4008-5202-4.
- He was a visionary. He pointed us into a direction where we can go and find the truth, find out what’s really going on. It’s about seeing the world in the right light.
- He’s like a modern-day Einstein. But everybody knows about Einstein and nobody knows about Langlands. Why is that?
- He’s clearly one of the most important living mathematicians. His legend precedes him. But the question is, ‘Do mathematicians really know what he has done?’ It’s like having a famous writer but no one has read his books.
- He would become fluent in French, Russian, German and Turkish, and well-versed in their literature. Frenkel, who exchanges emails with Langlands in Russian, speculates that his versatility with languages may have had something to do with his ability to see connections in disparate fields of mathematics.
- Contenta, Sandro. "The Canadian who reinvented mathematics". Toronto Star.
- Langlands spent every morning, seven days a week, for five years working on the paper he delivered in Oslo. It is written entirely in Russian and dedicated in large part to reformulating the geometric program championed by Frenkel. This new paper is an attempt to shift the field toward a more traditional approach: it proposes a new mathematical basis for the geometric theory that relates more closely to Langlands’s own conjectures by using similar tools to the ones he used in the ’60s—in the process, restoring his work back to its original arithmetic purity.
- Fairbanks, Viviane (15 November 2018). "The Greatest Mathematician You've Never Heard Of". The Walrus.