The Sino-American mathematician reaches a score of 230: “But I can’t sing and I failed two exams”
He has an IQ of 230: Albert Einstein, so to speak, reached 160. The mathematician Terence Tao , for all Terry, 46, professor at UCLA, presents himself as a common tourist, simplicity belongs to him together with polite manners: look easy , jacket over a polo shirt and sandals, even if it’s no longer hot in Varese. Until 24 September the University of Insubria hosts it – with an excursion to Brera tomorrow afternoon – for meetings and conferences. Finally, on Friday, Tao will receive the Riemann Prize (in 2021 a work by Marcello Morandini), one of the numerous awards in an amazing life: at 2 he read alone, at 5 he taught children, at 7 he was in high school, at 9 he attended courses in advanced mathematics. An alien, perhaps? “Not at all. And I have the same problems as everyone ». An extraordinary normality.
They judge you as the most intelligent man in the world: what do you think?
Absolute definitions are dangerous and I am a mathematician who enjoys his work. In our world we do not make comparisons, there is no reason ».
Galileo Galilei said: “Nature is a book and mathematics is its alphabet”.
«Nice sentence. Mathematics is the language with which you strip a thought into the central components. An eventual extraterrestrial race would not communicate with words, but with numbers and matrices ”.
Is it true that he made his grandmother despair by drawing numbers on the windows with liquid soap?
«I was 2-3 years old, I’ve always liked numbers: I love games in which if you do one thing you win and if you do another you lose. That’s just the math: one answer is right and one is wrong ».
Does he have a normal or special life?
«Normal: work, wife and two children to follow. Hobbies? I am a fan of computer games, even if I have set them aside ».
Is there something you can’t do or can’t understand?
“Physics is hard … Then I don’t know how to sing or even act: you think that I find it difficult to read a speech that has been prepared for me.”
John Garnett of UCLA claims that she is like Mozart.
«I know Mozart thanks to the film“ Amadeus ”: I don’t identify with him, but the comparison is curious and his music is splendid».
What do you explore with your research?
«The connections between the areas of mathematics: the attempt to unify the aspects is a constant of this discipline».
Why do many students hate it?
“Because they see it as something magical. And if she doesn’t follow her language, something bad happens to you. We need to change our approach, try, experiment: mathematics is not to be feared ».
According to Paul Dirac, if God existed he would be a mathematician.
(laughter) “It’s amazing how simple nature is as long as you don’t change its fundamentals: if you change, it becomes complicated.”
But do you believe in God?
“I think there was a creative entity, but then it did not have an active part in the evolution”.
Can we make math more understandable and shared?
«It is a great challenge. We experiment on the Net and well-made videos circulate on YouTube. What math for the future? I expect further applications in Big Data, in biomathematics, in the social sciences and in physics ».
Did you ever get a bad grade at school?
“Yup. I failed a couple of exams. One was physics: everything was fine for the maths part, then they asked me about historical notions and I hadn’t studied them because in my opinion they had nothing to do with it ».
Australian by birth, Chinese parents, also a US citizen. Has this melting pot helped you in your career?
«I was educated in the Western style, I watch American TV, I don’t like Chinese food even though I have Chinese friends. Which country do I feel from? In mathematics it doesn’t matter where you come from ».
Two plus two … is it always four?
“If there are no tricks, I say yes.”