For Research. For Berlin.

Bernd Sturmfels

"My research project is concerned with how methods from algebraic geometry and combinatorics can be applied to problems from the fields of optimisation, statistics and biology. Its official launch will be held at our kickoff workshop at the Academy of Sciences and Humanities on 29 and 30 May. My team comprises two postdocs, Laura Escobar (in the summer of '15) and Fatemeh Mohammadi (from October '15), and two PhD students, Kathlen Kohn and Carlos Amendola."


Please close your eyes for a moment and think about your research project. What do you see at first?
I see a beautiful algebraic surface in three-dimensional space with 16 singular points, defined by a degree 4 equation: the so-called Kummer surface.

What do you do first thing in the morning when you arrive at your workplace, and why?
Email, email, email. It's an addiction that's hard to break.

Please imagine you had one free wish to guarantee the success of your research project. What would it be?

The eradication of the hopelessly outmoded adjectives 'pure' and 'applied' as descriptions of 'mathematics'.

Is there a place in Berlin that links to the work on your research project?

Rüdesheimer Platz. My family and I spent a year (2007-2008) at the IBZ in Wiesbadener Strasse, and I often took an early-morning stroll in Rüdesheimer Platz, where I would mull over my research projects. Fortunately, the bakeries there are already selling coffee at 6 in the morning.

Who or what inspires you at work?

My undergraduates and PhD students. It doesn't get much better than working alongside young people and learning about maths together. It's so much fun.

(March 2015)