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Inspired by Mathematics

ICTP mathematics alumni on what the field means to them


ICTP has declared Monday 21 February as 'Ramanujan Day' to celebrate mathematics on the occasion of the award ceremony for the 2021 DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize, as well as the first lecture by its new Ramanujan International Chair.

Over the years, ICTP's Mathematics section has educated, recognised and inspired thousands of mathematicians from less advantaged countries, many of whom have gone on to achieve career success. In the spirit of Ramanujan Day, several were asked to share what it is about mathematics that has inspired them. Their responses are below.



Carolina Araujo, Brazil: ICTP Simons Associate and recipient, 2020 DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize.
Current affiliation: Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA), Brazil 

"Mathematics is the basis of science. It allows us to build systems and representations that help us understand phenomena and create solutions for the most varied challenges. From a very young age I was attracted to the abstract character of mathematical thinking. It is a fascinating aspect of human reasoning. I feel very fulfilled in my career as a mathematician. Both scientific research and interaction with students in the classroom bring me a lot of intellectual pleasure and satisfaction."



Alicia Dickenstein, Argentina: ICTP Senior Simons Research Associate (2014-2020)
Current affiliation: University of Buenos Aires; 2021 L'Oreal-UNESCO International Award for Women in Science

"Mathematics is the science of patterns. It is a human endeavor that is independent of gender, race, social status, or cultural difference.  It not only has an inner beauty but is also the basis for other scientific disciplines. Learning mathematics is key not only to face practical everyday issues, but also to understand the information that surrounds us, to organize our plans and to be prepared to learn different new things."


Mouhamed Moustapha Fall, Senegal: Postgraduate Diploma Graduate, 2005
Current affiliation: President, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Senegal

"My research  career in mathematics provides me with several skills e.g.: logic, precision, rigour, the love of challenging problems, optimism. These are, in fac,t skills that are valuable for any human being. Personally, as an institute leader and  member of several  decision making committees, being a mathematician makes me feel comfortable in almost every situation/challenge I am facing."


Soheyla Feyzbakhsh, Iran: Postgraduate Diploma Graduate, 2014
Current affiliation: Research Fellow at Imperial College London

"What I like in Mathematics is to think for weeks or months on a problem and gradually find a beautiful way to start working on it. The picture of the project gets gradually clear and that's the time that a different method to look at an old problem appears."


Anton Mellit, Ukraine: Former postdoctoral fellow
Current affiliation: Assistant Professor, University of Vienna

"I like mathematics because it is challenging, its beauty is that it is purely an intellectual activity, but contrary to other intellectual activities, say arts, mathematics is absolute."


Ayesha Qureshi, Pakistan: Former postdoctoral fellow
Current affiliation: Assistant Professor, Sabanci University, Turkey 

"Mathematics lays out a constructive way of establishing mental discipline and logical reasoning. In mathematics, everything can be explained through straightforward logic. It is an indispensable tool for all the scientific and logical thought processes. This opens opportunities for mathematicians in both academic and non-academic sectors.


Khadim War, Senegal: Postgraduate Diploma Graduate, 2012
Current affiliation: Assistant Professor, Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA), Brazil

"The importance of studying mathematics relies on the ability to have a clear and easy explanation of very complex problems. The thirst of exactness and clarity attracted me to mathematics. As a mathematician, we can help developing science everywhere in the world because a mathematics knowledge does not have boundaries of any nature."