Friday, September 09, 2016

Spectra of Academics

There is always an urge in me to defend the academics, not simply because I am one but because of the weight of responsibilities that they carry. The traditional responsibilities of research, teaching and supervision are more than enough to fill up (multiples of) the lifetime of an academic. In the contemporary setting of a modern academic, there are now further expectations of taking up duties on industrial relations, community engagements and even income generation. All these should be handled with care and wisdom. Thus, it saddens me when others are trying to put down the academics.

In the midst of the frenzy of duties and activities that the academics need to cover, it is sometimes a relief for us to return to the (comfort zone of) traditional setting and entertain our intellectual playfulness. We got to do this when Prof. Kalyan B. Sinha visited us at the institute. Earlier, I was surprised to receive his email stating his intent to visit the institute after he attends the Quantum Probability conference in Kuantan. He actually knew personally the late Prof. S. Twareque Ali and was saddened by his departure. After looking up his profile and research work, I was more than happy and honoured to invite him. So he was at the institute on 27-29 August 2016. We took the opportunity to organize a half-day seminar to coincide with his visit (see He gave very good introductory lectures on stochastic Schrodinger/Heisenberg dynamics and non-commutative geometry (his slides are available here). Further glimpse of his clear and lucid way of explaining technical materials can be found in his books  here and here. Below are some pics of his visit:

At the end of his visit, I told him that I wish that I had known him earlier so that we could interact and possibly collaborate since there are overlaps of interests.

Talking about collaborations, my attitude has always been very open to invitations within constraints. I rarely decline and am usually honoured to work with good scientists. It is only if it's too distant away from my interest that I will excuse myself or the other party does not really want to collaborate or consider me of much too low a stature. In the latter, I tend to shy away from the person. Currently, I'm in the midst of making possible collaborations with a regulatory body to do complex networks research. The initiative came from Prof. Maman Djauhari, ex-fellow of the institute. The discussion had began last year but negotiations were only finalized recently, but Prof. Maman was already leaving the institute. In a small farewell function, he gave a speech (see pic below). It was during his speech that I learned that Prof. Maman took group theory classes by the legendary Alexander Grothendieck and also Jorga Ibrahim was his lecturer whom he held in high regards. I remember that we had the opportunity of inviting Prof. Jorga Ibrahim to deliver lectures on deforemation quantization in ITMA through the suggestion of Freddy Zen. It was a great honour to have him (and at that time with John Stillwell), way back in 2004.

Fast forward to this week, I found myself again concerned with how blanket expectations on academics, regardless of the field he or she is in. This can be bad particularly when mathematicians/theoreticians have always different research, publication and citation culture. Decision makers and managers must be made fully aware of these differences. Below, I give some links to some statements and studies being made on research culture of mathematics:

Much like the social scientists had fought against the use of metrics of hard sciences in their fields, mathematicians and theoreticians will do well united in highlighting the above.

1 comment:

Choong Pak Shen said...

Let us believe that small but collective efforts can make great influences. Your ideals may prove unworthy among some crowds, but surely it has attracted some other crowds.