An interview with Alain Connes by Connes A.

By Connes A.

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The system does not function as a closed system. The US are successful mostly because they import very bright scientists from abroad. For instance they have imported all of the Russian mathematicians at some point. GBK But the system is big enough to accommodate all these people this is also a good point. 31 C If the Soviet Union had not collapsed there would still be a great school of mathematics there with no pressure for money, no grants and they would be more successful than the US. In some sense once they migrated in the US they survived and did very well but I believed they would have bloomed better if not transplanted.

34 C Just creating an analogue of CNRS wont resolve the problem of course but clearly that type of system also succeeded in the Soviet Union; the system was similar to CNRS with large numbers of researchers and they were doing great things. GBK This is probably two different kinds of systems. France and Russia are different from Iran. MK I’m not pessimistic because pursuit of abstract ideas and higher knowledge has strong roots in persian culture. Science and knowledge just for the sake of science and knowledge.

It was like moving from a very small little village to a big town and each time I thought I was already in the center of mathematics. But then when I arrived in IHES in 76, I realized that it was not really the case. But I never had the wish to move to main stream. I really hated the arrogance of some people. My only desire was to do things that were orthogonal to what these guys were doing. This implied being as far from algebraic geometry as one could be. GBK Did you ever go to the IHES during the Grothendieck’s time?

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