Kyoto Prize at Oxford 2024: Dr Elliott H Lieb

My Journey Through Physics and Mathematics

08 May 2024, 11:00 - 12:00

Blavatnik School of Government and online

Open to the public

This event is free

Mathematical physicist Dr Elliott H Lieb (2023 Kyoto Prize Laureate in Basic Sciences), whose achievements in many-body physics have laid a foundation for mathematical research in fields such as physics, chemistry and quantum information science, gives a lecture as part of the Kyoto Prize at Oxford 2024.

Professor Elliott H Lieb is introduced by Professor Shivaji Sondhi, Wykeham Professor of Physics, University of Oxford. The lecture is followed by a Q&A.

I present snapshots of my seventy-year journey through the world of science, first as a would-be engineer, then as a physicist and later as a mathematician and a mathematical physicist. In many encounters with colleagues in different areas of research I learned that mathematics and a mathematical perspective can be pivotal in developing our thinking about physics. This fundamental connection between mathematics and physics was not always accepted at the beginning of my career, and it was even vigorously denied by some mathematicians and physicists. I mention some of my work to illustrate the value of mathematical physics for theoretical physics and to pure mathematics, the first being the Polaron bound found with K. Yamazaki in Kyoto in 1957. Another is the "ice problem", where I calculated the number of ways to colour a chess board with only three colours so that neighbouring squares never have the same colour.