Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back in the Day: Spring 2001 Penn State/Maryland Dynamical Systems Conference

The recent announcement of the Fields Medals brought me to thinking back at the 2001 Spring Maryland-Penn State dynamical systems conference.

In addition to the schedule --- which included somebody who already had won the Fields medal, who I successfully challenged with one of my questions even though I was just a grad student; somebody else who would win one later; and several other speakers who I met for the first time at that conference and would see many times since over the years --- there were also other people (like Howie Weiss) in the audience with whom I would subsequently interact a lot over the years. This also includes several people from University of Maryland (such as Brian Hunt, who was one of the conference's main organizers), though I am pretty sure that Jim Yorke wasn't around for that conference. (I would meet him many times later.) One of my friends from Caltech also attended the conference, and several audience members who weren't speakers also have moved on to bigger and better mathematical things.

I also vaguely remember that audience-member Misha Brin (who was not yet known as "Sergey's father" at the time) was not particularly fond of the research that I presented in my talk, though I'm not really sure whether that was just his mannerisms or his actual opinion.

Several of the attendees who were still doing rather pure work then are now rather applied in most of their work. (Or have even become famous entrepreneurs in the tech world. :) ) Given what people have done since that conference, it's a rather impressive selection of speakers among the people who hadn't yet "made it" at the time.

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