In August 2022, 43 young scientists from 26 countries joined the large group of graduates of ICTP's intense Postgraduate Diploma Programme, after a ceremony celebrating their successful completion of the programme.
The Diploma students, who have spent the past year at ICTP attending graduate-level courses in physics and mathematics, are now equipped with the knowledge and learning skills needed to advance their careers. Since its inception, the programme has produced more than 1150 graduates from about 80 countries. As a result of their ICTP studies, many have been accepted to doctoral or master's programmes at top universities around the world, while others return to their home countries to share their knowledge with colleagues and students.
In this interview, Mohamed Aliouane of Algeria, one of the newly graduated ICTP alumni, talks about his experience attending the programme and how he hopes this will boost his career in mathematics.
When and why did you decide to dedicate your studies to mathematics?
Before coming here, I was studying mathematics in Algiers. But before doing mathematics, I actually studied engineering for three years. During that time, I realised that I was interested in more theoretical subjects, such as mathematics, so after the third year I decided to switch to studying mathematics in the University of Science And Technology Houari Boumediene.
How did your research interests lead you to ICTP's Postgraduate Diploma Programme?
After my bachelor's I was looking for an opportunity to continue my studies in mathematics. I found out about the ICTP Diploma Programme from a network I joined in Algeria, called MathWin, an informal group that provides support and opportunities for university students in mathematics. There I met two other young mathematicians that had attended the Diploma Programme before and are now doing their PhD at SISSA, so I decided to try as well.
What are some challenges you faced in pursuing your studies?
The first important challenge during my studies was to switch to mathemtics after three years of engineering, as it required some courage to make such a decision. Then, when I arrived to ICTP, the main challenge for me was to adapt to the intensity of the programme and the fast pace of the courses, so I needed to increase the number of my studying hours.
In your opinion, what were the strengths of the Postgraduate Diploma Programme?
The Diploma Programme was a very nice experience for me. Even though the courses were a little bit intense, and a bit too dense, it was overall very good. The programme is indeed very rich: in just one month, you can learn many things. I think the best thing, in the program and in ICTP in general, is the environment; it is perfect for studying and concentrating on your work. For example, when I was at university studying three hours was too much. But here the environment really allows you to study for five hours very easily. Moreover, even when you have lunch, you can discuss about maths with other students or even the professors. I think this is the most important part of the programme.
What was your diploma thesis about?
My thesis was about the McKay correspondence, which is a magic bridge between representations of finite groups and algebraic geometry. I really enjoyed working on this topic beacause I'm a big fan of finite group theory and representation theory; finite groups are my favorite mathematical objects, and I also really like algebraic geometry.
What are your future plans?
I just started my PhD at SISSA, so I will stay in Trieste for some time. I will continue working in the field of algebra and algebraic geometry. Then, I think the most natural path for me would be to go on and find some post-doctoral positions and continue my career in research. My dream is certainly to go as far as possible in mathematics.