In Interviews, News

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum is an annual meeting bringing together winners of the most prestigious scientific awards in Mathematics (Abel Prize, Fields Medal and Nevanlinna Prize) and Computer Science (ACM Turing Award) with a select group of highly talented young researchers. Roughly 200 young scientists from all over the world get the unique opportunity to interact with their scholarly role models during lectures, panels and discussions. At the same time, the up and coming scientists can engage in inspiring and motivating conversations with the laureates during various social events. The Heidelberg Laureate Forum provides a platform for scientific dialogue across generations.

Each year AMSI and AustMS provide funding for young Australian researchers to attend.

Matthew Tam
Computed-Assisted Research Mathematics and its Applications (CARMA), University of Newcastleme300dpi


Where are you in your career? I am PhD student at the Centre for Computed-Assisted Research Mathematics and its Applications (CARMA) at the University of Newcastle.

Why do you want to attend the HLF? The Heidelberg Laureate Forum, provides a unique opportunity to meet and to learn about out the working habit of those best in our field. I also look forward to networking with other forum attendees.

Tell us about your research. My research interests lie in variational and convex analysis, and their application to optimisation. The focus of my PhD is developing, understanding and applying iterative algorithms based on nearest point projections. These methods have a sound theoretical foundation in the presence of convexity but, nevertheless, still perform well when applied to non-convex problems, particularly to those having combinatorial or sparse structure.

What are your favourite applications of your work? Together with Francisco Aragón Artacho and my supervisor Jonathan Borwein, we applied the Douglas-Rachford algorithm to a problem of reconstructing low-dimensional distance information which arises, for example, in protein conformation determination. In addition to being a mathematically interesting problem, it also generated some fun visualisations.

If you could meet any Fields Medalist or Abel Prize winner which would it be and why? William Thurston. His essay “On on proof and progress in mathematics” is an interesting and thought provoking discussion of what mathematics is, and what it means to be a mathematician.