Mark Budgen
Mark Budgen

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a PhD student at the Mathematical Sciences Institute, at the Australian National University. I work at the intersection of geometry, topology, and physics. My PhD research is focused on studying the geometric and topological properties of dualities in string theory. I also have an interest in mathematical aspects of general relativity, as well as wild and non-compact knot theory.

The HLF is an amazing opportunity to meet the greatest minds in mathematics and computer science. Having a chance to hear first-hand the experiences of Fields medallists and the other laureates is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

If you could meet any Fields Medalist or Abel Prize winner, which would it be and why

Sir Michael Francis Atiyah is a legend in mathematical physics. His work on topology and physics is something you can’t avoid if you do mathematical physics.

What are your favourite applications of your work?

There are none! This isn’t a bad thing, though, since blue sky research in theoretical physics often has no immediate applications. The development of quantum mechanics, or general relativity, was driven by a need to understand fundamental physics, without any regard to applications. Nevertheless, these ideas opened up new areas of technology that weren’t even dreamt of before; modern computers would never have been invented without an understanding of quantum mechanics, and devices like GPS would accumulate errors of several kilometres per day without the mathematics of special and general relativity.