I just finished reading a wonderful book Love & Math (2013) by Edward Frenkel, with my usual morning cup of Italian coffee and (Pineapple) Chobani, when I noticed this LinkedIn message I received following my Executive Education sessions (from a participant who is an emerging star in the multi-national company that sponsored the customized program at Tepper) wanting to connect:
Literally in love with you.
What were my sessions?
As you know, I am quite used to receiving complimentary emails and messages after my presentations – some startling like in Now to Wow after my PNC talk and some emotional like Die Freuden des freigeistigen Tayur after my J&J webinar – but this one was over the top!
Another LinkedIn message, from a fellow participant, was more routine:
Hi Prof. Sridhar, great to meet you at the XXX program that we concluded last week… Thanks for presenting one of the best presentations I’ve heard…
Back to the book. It is part memoir – a bona fide Künstlerroman – and part a love letter, the author saying:
Literally in love with math.
There are many things that I liked about the book. Setting aside the memoir part – which in itself is very informative (about his difficult teenage years in Russia, due to extreme anti-semitism in academia there at that time, and then his pleasant academic career in the US, spanning Harvard/MIT and UC Berkeley) – I found the book enjoyable as it explains many deep concepts from pure mathematics in an understandable way:
Page 24. Representation. Page 47. Braid Groups. Page 77. Galois Group. Page 90. Modular Form. Page 155. Category Theory.
The underlying thread is on unification (of various different threads of pure mathematics, The Laglands Program), with symmetry as a guide (and particle physics as a concrete application, meaning quantum field theory as the mathematical description).
You know from my posts Śrīdhara Brāhmaṇa: Quantum Field Theory and There is Something about Mass that I have been working through the mathematics of QFT (with Symmetry as a guide) – thanks to wonderful books by Jakob Schwichtenberg, and by Leonard Susskind – and so Frenkel’s book now has provided me an unified view of other mathematics I need to get comfortable with before actually delving into them methodically. I am, putting it in the same format:
Literally in love with symmetry.
Another aspect of the author that I appreciated was that he is a movie producer, and has actually made a short film that has been screened in several film festivals around the world!
In the book, he narrates his meetings with colleagues using a screenplay form (Chapter 15), like I did in Please do not snap your fingers.
I read Love & Math over the past few weeks (early morning with coffee and Chobani) in parallel to watching Irma Vep (late night, after dinner, settling to bed) – which as you know from my previous post, I enjoyed very much, because it is multi-braided 😏 and is at once artistic (especially when it juxtaposes the colorful recreation with Mira playing Irma Vep with the original black-and-white Les Vampires, where Irma Vep was portrayed by Musidora, and, simultaneously, visualizes, newly, the creation of the original, re-imagining Musidora working through the issues of her day while she was filming, acted also by Alicia Vikander, while Mira and Irma Vep of the recreation start fusing into one, an entangled superposition of Irma Vep‘s spirit and Mira‘s mind…) as it is informative (of the reality of the film industry and the mechanics, economics and politics of making a movie) and entertaining (because of its characters and how they interact) – and while I am still going through two recent books (for a couple of hours, during the day, sandwiched between breakfast and dinner):
Neutrino Physics (2020).