French newspaper interviews professor about Galois Theory
AUGUST 22, 2022 BY STAFF REPORT
University of Mississippi mathematician Ayla Gafni was interviewed recently by the influential French daily newspaper Le Monde.
“The science section was preparing an article about the recent proof of van der Waerden’s conjecture,” said Gafni, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics. “The result was a significant breakthrough by Fields medalist Manjul Bhargava.
“My coauthors and I had one of the most recent partial results on the topic before Bhargava’s announcement. The journalist interviewed me for my perspective on the proof as an expert in the field of Galois Theory, a method of applying group theory to the solution of algebraic equations.”
Le Monde featured Gafni providing context for the importance of Bhargava’s result, as well as to explain how he was able to solve a problem that had been open for 80 years.
A translated quote from the article: “In the meantime, Ayla Gafni is delighted that the work of Manjul Bhargava is attracting attention to her area of research. Although she does not hide a small bit of frustration: ‘When Bhargava announced his seminar, my team and I were about to publish our latest results, which took a further step towards solving [the van der Waerden conjecture]. And another independent team was also preparing to publish on the same subject!’ A setback classic in research, when one team is overtaken by another… But which illustrates how promising this field of mathematics and these subjects are!”
“Dr. Gafni is involved in cutting-edge research in number theory and has published in some of the best mathematical journals in the world, such as Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, International Mathematics Research Notices, and Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications,” said Talmage James Reid, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics.
“Her work is internationally acknowledged with presentations given at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and the Hausdorff Institute of Mathematics in Bonn, Germany.”
Gafni, who joined the UM faculty in 2019, is the recipient of a 2020 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, a competitive research grant for young faculty members at Oak Ridge Associated Universities member institutions. She currently holds a Simons Foundation Collaboration Grant. Her research interests include analytic number theory, which focuses on integers, and combinatorics, which is the study of counting arrangements of objects.