#TLOM (The Limits Of Mathematics, October 29, 2016):

Is Nature logical? Is uncertainty hardwired into Nature? Where do the paradoxes or aporia lie? Might paradoxes exist in the object (& not in the thinking)? What is the ontological status of mathematical objects? Are laws of Nature really written in the language of mathematics? Is mathematics a form of philosophical speculation? Did mechanization precede mathematization? Are axioms more pragmatic than theoretical? Can all mathematics be reduced to (but not derived from) logic? ‘How’ is mathematics able to explain reality? Can the quantum or the cosmological scales be visualized using Euclidean geometry? Does theoretical physics sometimes invent its own mathematics to make progress? Can (sub/un-conscious) thoughts or dreams be concretized? Is pure mathematics an extension of deductive logic, & always incomplete? Can mathematics be semi empirical (as: axioms + data)? Is a causal explanation always necessary? Is it possible to have a theory of everything for anything? What is the future of the limits (& uncertainties) of mathematics? Would large scale collaboration and computation help push the limits? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from theoretical physics & mathematics (Prof. Rajesh Gopakumar, ICTS-TIFR, Bangalore), statistics (Prof. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, ex-University of Calcutta, Kolkata), & philosophy (Prof. Babu Thaliath, JNU, New Delhi).

Listen in….

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TLOM show.

Prof. Rajesh Gopakumar (theoretical physics, mathematics) is currently the Director of the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTSTIFR) in Bangalore. ICTS is a new institution with a multi-pronged approach to science. Prof. Gopakumar has always had a synthetic approach to science and feels that ICTS is the right vehicle to bring that element to Indian science. He completed his undergraduate studies at IIT Kanpur (in Physics) and his Ph.D. at Princeton University (1997). Subsequently, after a few years at Harvard University, he joined Harish-Chandra Research Institute (Allahabad, 2001-2013). He also held a visiting membership at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton (2001-2004). His work on string theory and quantum field theory, as well as their relation to each other, is on the frontier of theoretical physics and mathematics and has had an impact in both subjects. He has also worked on topological string theory, non-commutative field theories often with the recurring, unifying theme of understanding the large N limit of gauge theories. He is a recipient of several honours including the ICTP Prize (2006), the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (2009), the JC Bose Fellowship, and the TWAS Prize in Physics (2013) amongst others. He is a Fellow of all the three National Science Academies (INSA, NASI, IAS) in India and of TWAS, in addition to being a founding member (& now alumnus) of the Global Young Academy.

Prof. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (statistics) completed his M.Sc. (1960) and Ph.D. (1967) in Statistics from University of Calcutta before starting his teaching career in Presidency College, Calcutta, in 1962 and later joining the Department of Statistics, University of Calcutta in 1964. He retired as the Centenary Professor of Statistics from the University in 2004. At the University he was the Head of the Statistics Department and also the Dean of the Faculty of Science. Significantly, during his tenure, he introduced the study of Operational Research into the University. Prof. Mukherjee has published over 90 research papers in leading national and international journals, besides a large number of review and expository articles. He has also authored three books in areas of probability and statistics. He has worked on and guided research in Applied Probability with special reference to areas such as Reliability Analysis, Quality Management, Stochastic Optimisation, Inventory and Replacement Models, Queueing Models, and Bayesian Estimation. Prof. Mukherjee has successfully guided 23 Ph. D. scholars, and two scholars are currently working under his guidance. He is the Editor of IAPQR Transactions and The Journal of Industrial Statistics, and also has been associated with several other international journals in the past. He also received honours such as the P. C. Mahalanobis Birth Centenary Award (2000) and the Prof. P. V. Sukhatme National Award for Statistics (2012). His other interests include subjects such as demography, sustainable development, emotional intelligence and psychological counseling, space science, & agricultural and industrial metabolism.

Prof. Babu Thaliath (philosophy) is currently Professor at the Centre of German Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. He has previously pursued postdoctoral research at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge (2010-2013) and Humboldt University Berlin (2005 – 2009). His key research areas are early modern philosophy, epistemology, aesthetics, phenomenology, history and philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, theory of perception, late medieval scholasticism, intercultural and transnational communication processes, & film aesthetics. He has a degree in civil engineering from the College of Engineering, Trivandrum (1988), after which he studied German Philology and Philosophy at JNU (1992-1994). He continued his studies in Philosophy and Germanistik at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg (1997-1999), followed by a doctoral research in the areas of Philosophy and Art History in Freiburg and Basel (1999 – 2003) under the guidance of Prof. Klaus Jacobi and Prof. Gottfried Boehm. After completing his Ph.D. in 2003, he pursued several postdoctoral research projects in the area of Early Modern History and Philosophy of Science. He has worked closely with scholars such as Prof. Dominik Perler (Berlin), Prof. Martin Kemp (Oxford) and Prof. Hasok Chang (Cambridge), whom he counts as his mentors. Prof. Thaliath also received research scholarships from KAAD, Bonn (1999 – 2003) for his doctoral research and from Gerda Henkel Stiftung, Düsseldorf (2010 – 2013) to pursue further postdoctoral research in Berlin/Cambridge. Prof. Thaliath has presented in several international and national conferences. He has also published several monographs and articles (in German and English) in areas such as the Renaissance (central) perspective, early modern mechanical philosophy, visual space perception, structural intuition (Martin Kemp) in early modern mechanics and optics, contextually of early modern sciences. His current research relates to the referentiality of knowledge and knowledge systems in early modern age. [Note: Also a SynTalkr on #TMMOF (The Many Manners Of Falling)]

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TLOM mentionsPlato,  Aristotle,  Galileo Galilei,  Immanuel Kant,  Robert Hooke, Issac Newton, René Descartes, Bernhard Riemann, George Boole, Bertrand Russell, Erwin Panofsky, Kurt Gödel, Nicolas Bourbaki, & Eugene Wigner, among others.