BMS students attend the 6th HLF
The 6th Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) took place at Heidelberg University from 23 to 28 September 2018. The HLF is a networking event for mathematicians and computer scientists from all over the world and is organised annually by the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF).
200 young scientists from 60 nations were successful in convincing the foundation's scientific advisory board of their outstanding academic abilities to secure a place at this event, where they were given the chance to interact extensively with 32 Laureates of mathematics and computer science. The Laureates are the winners of some of the most prestigious awards in those two fields: the Abel Prize, the Fields Medal, the Nevanlinna Prize and the ACM A.M. Turing Award.
There are several stages in the career of a young researcher during which they may apply to attend the HLF: undergraduate; graduate (in the PhD phase); or postdoc. Four BMS students were selected to attend the HLF this year: the Phase I student Tatiana Levinson, and three Phase II students Giulia Codenotti, Jorge Alberto Olarte and Josué Tonelli Cueto. The BMS students took the opportunity to converse with their fellow participants and with the Laureates in between attending the various talks, workshops and events.
The 7th HLF will take place in September 2019 and the application process will begin on 15 November 2018.
The HLF was initiated by the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), a German foundation which promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS). The Forum is organized by the HLFF along with KTS and HITS. It is strongly supported by the award-granting institutions: the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM: ACM A.M. Turing Award), the International Mathematical Union (IMU: Fields Medal, Nevanlinna Prize), and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA: Abel Prize). A longer news article in English can be found on the HLF website.
Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini
BMS at AIMS in Ghana
In August 2018, BMS faculty member and HU professor of mathematics, Dirk Becherer, and BMS Phase I student, Martha Nansubuga, visited the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Ghana. Dirk was invited to give a three-day seminar on "Stochastic Control for Markets with Finite Liquidity" and Martha was one of the participants. Of the approximately 45 master level students who attended the seminar series, 12 were women, and in addition to the new cohort of AIMS students, several MPhil and PhD students and research visitors from the AIMS Research Centre also took part.
After the seminar series had ended, Martha scheduled a meeting with the AIMS students a few days later in order to give a one-hour presentation about the BMS. She first described the structure of Phase I and Phase II, then talked about the math landscape in Berlin, and followed that with information about the BMS study program, including soft-skills seminars, What is...? seminars and BMS Friday lectures. She emphasized how important the latter two events are for coming into contact with other fields of mathematics and the people active in them. Martha then added a personal touch by telling the students about her life as part of the BMS family, the various social activities organized by the student representatives, as well as the BMS Buddy Program, which for Martha has been a great success as her buddy is still happy to offer help whenever she needs it.
She also told the AIMS students about three members of their alumni who found their current success by doing a PhD in stochastics via the BMS. They are Victor Fenou Nzengang, BMS Alumnus and now a postdoc at the University of Freiburg; Klébert Kentia Tonleu, BMS Alumnus and now a senior consultant in Frankfurt; and Ludovic Tangpi, a former BMS Phase II student, who is now an assistant professor at Princeton University. She also took the opportunity to mention that one can experience the BMS by applying to a BMS Summer School too, which a friend of hers from AIMS South Africa did. Her application was successful and she came to Berlin for the 2017 BMS Summer School in "Probabilistic and Statistical Methods for Networks". Martha's presentation included a long and lively discussion, and at the end she handed out informational material and promotional items from the BMS.
Martha combined her activities for the BMS with a four-week research stay working with Dr. Olivier Menoukeu Pamen, the German Research Chair at the AIMS Ghana Research Centre. She studied and discussed deterministic and stochastic maximum principle problems with Dr. Pamen and his research students, attended the SAFIM workshop in Accra, and took part in other scientific activities with the AIMS students. Martha stayed on the AIMS Ghana campus in Biriwa, and lived and dined with the students, staff and lecturers at the institute, who took every chance to ask her questions about the BMS and life in Berlin. In their free time, her hosts took her on trips to the beach, into town for dinner and to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra. Martha enjoyed her experience at AIMS and was happy to be able to share her knowledge with its ambitious and talented students. Her own personal piece of advice for them with regards to studying mathematics was to strive to "understand simple things deeply".
Dirk and Martha's activities at AIMS Ghana were made possible through the "Berlin-AIMS Network in Stochastic Analysis", whose goal it is to foster scientific exchange between mathematicians in Berlin and Ghana. The collaborating partners are the HU Berlin, WIAS and AIMS Ghana and this network is part of a DAAD-funded program that supports university cooperation with AIMS (Hochschulkooperationen mit dem AIMS). In coordination with Dr. Pamen, Dirk and Martha will soon welcome some ambitious students from the AIMS research center to Berlin for a reciprocal visit. Naturally, these young researchers are very much looking forward to experiencing the wide mathematics environment in Berlin and, in particular, are keen to learn more about the activities of the BMS community during their stay.
The BMS would like to thank Dirk and Martha for their efforts on behalf of the BMS, and thank you to Dr. Pamen for the hospitality he gave them!
AIMS was founded in South Africa in 2003 as a pan-African center providing advanced, broadly applicable mathematical skills to talented students recruited from all over the continent. Since 2011, AIMS has opened additional centers in Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini
Success for the BMS in the Excellence Strategy!
On 27 September 2018, a press conference to announce the decisions about the new Clusters of Excellence to be funded within the framework of the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) Excellence Strategy was live-streamed from the Wissenschaftszentrum Bonn.
On the basis of previous international review sessions, members of an international committee of experts appointed by the Joint Science Conference (GWK) deliberated on a total of 88 proposals on 25 and 26 September. The final selection was made in the Excellence Commission, where members of the committee of experts convened with federal and state government ministers responsible for science and research.
From the 88 proposals, 57 were successful nationwide, and the Berlin Mathematics Research Centre “MATH+“ was one of seven proposals from Berlin selected to be funded by the DFG as a Cluster of Excellence for the next seven years. From 1 January 2019, MATH+ will be established as a new joint cluster of the three Berlin universities, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Technische Universität Berlin, as well as Weierstrass Institute for Applied Analysis and Stochastics (WIAS) and the Zuse Institute Berlin (ZIB).
The Berlin Mathematical School will be part of MATH+ and will continue as a graduate school for mathematics within this new framework. This success will give the BMS the opportunity to extend its current activities, for example to continue supporting the BMS Dirichlet Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Congratulations to all members of the BMS and to all those actively involved in planning and composing the MATH+ proposal!
Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini
BMS Certificate Ceremony 2018
On Friday 13 July 2018, the BMS Certificate Ceremony took place in the Goethe Saal at Harnack-Haus in Berlin's leafy residential district of Dahlem.
After the final BMS Friday Colloquium of the summer semester given by Prof. Dr. Monique Laurent (CWI, Amsterdam), BMS students, friends, family and BMS faculty, staff and guests joined together to celebrate the academic achievements of 21 BMS Phase I graduates and 83 BMS Phase II graduates.
The certificate ceremony began with a welcome speech by the new BMS Chair, Prof. John M. Sullivan, who began by congratulating the recent graduates on their success. He then reported that, in the 12 years since its foundation, the BMS has celebrated the success of 300 PhD graduates, and remarked that the internationality of BMS students continues to have a great effect on the math landscape in Berlin. In his short speech, Prof. Günter M. Ziegler, the outgoing BMS Chair and new President of FU Berlin, highlighted the internationality of the BMS management too and, in a quote by Hemingway, he encouraged the new graduates to be prepared for whatever luck the future might bring.
Monique Laurent returned to the stage to award Certificates of Completion to those students who completed Phase I during the past two years by passing the BMS Qualifying Exam. She then awarded Certificates of Distinction to the Phase II students who completed their PhDs in the same period. The ceremony also included musical performances by the duo "Wild Strings", a violinist and guitarist who perform their own improvised versions of classical music pieces.
After receiving their certificates, the BMS graduates gathered in the garden for some photographs and then everyone joined them outside to enjoy the celebratory reception under the warm evening sun.
Patrick Morris, a Phase I graduate from the UK who is now halfway through Phase II, was grateful to the BMS for organizing such a special celebration and giving graduates the opportunity to invite friends and family along. Through the presentation of Phase II dissertation titles, he said his guests were able to get a real impression of where all his hard work can lead to. Antje Bjelde, a BMS Phase II graduate from Germany who is now working as a freelance researcher, said that seeing a "Dr." title before her name, as it was displayed on the presentation, is still a surreal feeling.
Phase I graduates Dragana Radojičić from Serbia and Shimaa Elesaely from Egypt both travelled back to Berlin from abroad to attend the ceremony. Dragana said: "It was a great pleasure to attend the ceremony and I was very happy when I got an invitation. I finished Phase I of the BMS program two years ago, and since then I do not miss an opportunity to visit Berlin and meet friends I made here. In addition to meeting dear people from the BMS, these events are always nicely organized with a wonderful atmosphere and great food." Shimaa remarked: "What I liked was to see old friends again and to celebrate my success with them. During the ceremony I enjoyed the music, and afterwards I enjoyed the delicious buffet and socializing with friends, professors, students and staff."
Almost 150 people attended on the day and we would like to thank everyone who joined us in celebrating the academic success of our students. Not all of our graduates were able to attend the ceremony, so we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone. Well done, we are very proud of you all!
John M. Sullivan new Chair of the BMS
John M. Sullivan, professor of mathematics at Technische Universität Berlin (TU), is the new chair of the Berlin Mathematical School (BMS).
Sullivan took up his post on 1 July 2018 in accordance with the rotating chairmanship, and succeeds Günter M. Ziegler of Freie Universität Berlin (FU). An assembly of BMS faculty members unanimously elected Sullivan as the new chair and paid tribute to his predecessor, who was recently elected president of the FU Berlin. BMS faculty members then elected Holger Reich, professor of mathematics at the FU, as the new BMS deputy chair to represent Freie Universität Berlin. He will carry out his duties alongside Jürg Kramer, the BMS deputy chair from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU). The rotational change of the BMS chairmanship occurs every two years between the three participating universities.
Sullivan studied at Harvard and Cambridge, before completing his PhD at Princeton in 1990. After holding positions at the University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and at MSRI in California, he took up his current position at the TU in 2003. His research interests include discrete differential geometry and mathematical visualization.
Everyone at the BMS would like to extend sincere thanks to Günter M. Ziegler for his hard work and outstanding commitment as the BMS Chair over the past two years, and we would like to give his successor, John M. Sullivan, a very warm welcome!
Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini
Günter M. Ziegler elected President of FU Berlin
In the first ballot of votes cast, Ziegler received 39 of the 61 votes to succeed the long-term president of the FU, Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt. Required was an absolute majority of 31 votes. Ziegler's main contender was Tanja Brühl, professor of political science at the Goethe University Frankfurt, who received 15 votes. The president of the FU Berlin is appointed by the Berlin Senate and the term of office lasts four years.
Ziegler, who is currently the Chair of the Berlin Mathematical School, a professor of mathematics at the FU Berlin, and honorary professor at the TU Berlin, completed his PhD at MIT in 1987 and did his habilitation at the TU Berlin in 1992. From 1995 to 2011, he was professor of mathematics at the TU, before taking up his current position at the FU in 2011. Ziegler has been nationally and internationally recognized for the remarkable breadth of his mathematical knowledge, and for his services to research in the areas of discrete mathematics, geometry and topology. The German Research Foundation awarded Ziegler the Gerhard Hess Prize and the Leibniz Prize in 1994 and in 2001, respectively. He is a member of the board of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, and a representative for the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. In 2010, he was honored with an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council and in 2012, he was appointed to the first group of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). In 2013, the mathematician was granted the Hector Science Award and appointed Fellow of the Hector Foundation. More recently, in 2017, Ziegler was awarded the Berlin Science Prize, and this year he received the Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition (jointly with Martin Aigner) from the AMS.
Ziegler, who has been acknowledged as an impressive communicator and praised for his reputation as a role model for scholars, young scientists and students alike, succeeds Prof. Dr. Alt, who was elected as President of the German Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz) on 24 April 2018, after acting as FU President since 2010.
Everyone at the BMS would like to extend their hearty congratulations to Günter on his election as the new president of the FU Berlin!
Source: FU Berlin
BMS Alumnus awarded Rollo Davidson Prize
This prize has been awarded annually since 1975 to young mathematicians for outstanding achievement in the field of probability theory. The members of the Rollo Davidson Trust at the University of Cambridge selected Nicolas "for his role in the development of the theory of paracontrolled distributions for singular stochastic partial differential equations and for advances in understanding of the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang equation". Previous prizewinners include Wendelin Werner und Alain-Sol Sznitman, who are former and current BMS Scientific Advisory Board members, respectively.
Nicolas did his PhD at the HU Berlin under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Peter Imkeller, and graduated with summa cum laude in December 2013. He then became a postdoctoral researcher at the CEREMADE, a research centre within the Université Paris-Dauphine, before starting as a junior professor for stochastic analysis at the HU Berlin in January 2015. At the beginning of April 2018, he took up a Heisenberg researcher position at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences (MPI MIS) in Leipzig.
Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini
BMS Summer School 2018
HOMOTOPY THEORY SUMMER - BERLIN 2018
The event will focus on topics in homotopy theory and its applications to algebraic and arithmetic geometry, manifold theory and algebraic K-theory. There will be two consecutive weeks devoted to the following topics.
Equivariant homotopy theory and K-theory
Motivic homotopy groups of spheres III
Each week is a workshop with an integrated summer school. In each week on Monday, Tuesday and on Wednesday afternoon we will have summer school lectures. These are primarily directed to PhD students and young PostDocs, but are open to all participants. There will also be accompanying tutorials and question sessions.
Summer School 1:
Applications of topological cyclic homology and cyclotomic spectra
Global homotopy theory
Assembly maps and trace methods
Summer School 2:
An introduction to A^1 homotopy theory from an infinity-categorical viewpoint
After the school part in each week there will be a workshop (Wednesday morning, Thursday, Friday). The summer school particpants are strongly encouraged to stay for the workshop as well.
For up-to-date information about the workshop and the summer school please visit
Registration and Application
Senior researchers, i.e. those who completed their Ph.D. in or before the year 2015, may register for the summer school and the workshops here.
Junior researchers should sign up at the BMS website and then apply via the separate application form under the link below. The deadline for applications with requests for funding expired March 7, 2018 and funding decisions have been taken.
However until May 13 you can still apply for participation and since there may be cancellations by funded participants we still collect the data relevant for funding as well.
Application Deadline: May 13, 2018
During the application you will be asked to upload two pdf-files. A scientific CV and a short letter of interest (half a page), where you should explain your motivation to participate in the event. You will also be asked to provide the contact information of one recommender.
For participants with children of up to 6 years, there will be day care opportunities if requested well in advance in the application.
• Andrew Blumberg (U Texas, Austin)
Einstein Award for the BMS
On 18 January 2018, the Berlin Mathematical School was honored with an “Einstein Award for Doctoral Programmes“.
This award recognizes outstanding highly structured doctoral programs at Berlin’s universities and at the “Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin“. It comes with substantial prize money earmarked for promoting and advancing research at a junior level as well as enhancing the international visibility of doctoral studies in Berlin.
The award was conferred by the Einstein Foundation Berlin for the second year running and the prize-giving ceremony was held in Berlin’s Altes Stadthaus as part of the foundation’s traditional New Year Reception. The BMS received prize money in the sum of 75,000 euros per year for three years, and for the duration of this funding period each prizewinner can enjoy the distinction of being known as an “Einstein Doctoral Programme“.
The financial component attached to this notable honor will considerably strengthen the BMS, in particular it will enable the optimal future development of two integral parts of its program. One part is the BMS Dirichlet Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, which is a two-year position offered to outstanding young PhD graduates, who want to pursue their own research in mathematics in one of the BMS Research Areas. The other is the BMS Alumni Program, which includes the BMS Alumni Day, an annual event designed to help alumni maintain a connection to the BMS, current students, fellow graduates and vice versa.
The BMS was one of the three prizewinners chosen for their excellent doctoral programs. The other winners were the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, and the Graduate School of North American Studies.
The Einstein Foundation Berlin was founded in 2009 by the State of Berlin. It promotes cutting-edge science and research, and strives to strengthen the city's reputation as one the world's leading research hubs.
Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini
Source: Einstein Foundation Berlin
BMS students successful at Dies Mathematicus 2017
Several BMS students were winners at this year’s Dies Mathematicus at the TU Berlin. Prizes were given for the best degrees of the year and for the best presentations of the day.
Phase I student Melanie Koser was one of three winners in the "Best Bachelor’s Degree" category. She presented her final thesis entitled "Zur kinetischen Formulierung skalarer Erhaltungsgleichungen". Among the three winners for the category "Best Master’s Degree" was her fellow Phase I student Jan Macdonald. He presented his thesis on "Bildklassifikation und die Scattering-Transformation - Woher Facebook & Co. wissen, was auf unseren Fotos zu sehen ist".
In the category "Best Presentation", two out of the three winners were from the BMS: Phase II student Mones Raslan for the presentation of his master’s thesis entitled "Der Sprung vom Kontinuierlichen ins Diskrete: Repräsentationssysteme zur Lösung von partiellen Differentialgleichungen" and Martin Plonka for the presentation of his master’s thesis on "Differentialgleichungen in Netzwerken".
Congratulations to all the winners!
Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini
Source: Dies Mathematicus