Francisco Santos is a Professor of Mathematics at the Universidad de Cantabria. His areas of research include discrete and combinational geometry, computational geometry and algebraic geometry. As an Einstein Visiting Fellow Francisco Santos is part of the “Discrete Geometry“ group at Freie Universität Berlin.
Please close your eyes for a moment and think about your research project. What do you see at first?
I see “lattices“ (regular configurations of points in space) and polytopes or polyhedra (solids bounded by flat facets).
What would your research project look like if it was a piece of art?
I would say an architectural piece. Not only because of the geometry, but also because most of my work is constructive, trying to build objects with particular properties that either were conjectured to be impossible or push the limits of what we think possible.
Please give your research project a suitable fantasy name!
Not sure about this one. If I have to think of a movie “Cube“ comes to my mind.
To your opinion, what are the three most meaningful inventions of mankind?
Language would certainly be the first. After that I’d put mathematics and music.
With whom would you like to exchange your workplace for one day, and what would you do then?
It would be interesting to be a taxi driver and just listen to people’s stories (and drive).
Is there any object of obsession, which accompanies you in your daily life?
Mathematics itself is very obsessive and, yes, it tends to accompany me in my daily life.
Any rather unusual hobbies you might want to share?
I am afraid my hobbies are not very unusual. I like skying, hiking, and listening to music. Well, perhaps salsa dancing, which I’ve started doing some years ago.
Is there a place in Berlin that links to the work on your research project?
Many buildings in Berlin have nice polyhedral shapes, but if I have to select one it’d be the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche. Not only it has the shape of two prisms (octagonal for the main building, hexagonal for the tower) but also its stained glass walls exemplify perfectly what I called a “lattice” in my first answer. And last but not least, it is a building I visit often while I am in Berlin, to listen to Bach Cantatas on Saturday evenings.