“Mathematics is about finding the deep rules of the universe and explaining them to the whole world.”
Born: 1973, France
Occupation: Professor at the University of Lyon, Director of Institut Henri Poincaré, Politician in the National Assembly
Academic Interests: Kinetic Theory and Optimal Transport and its Applications
Personal Interests: Walking, piano music, reading, politics and spider brooches!
Childhood and Education
It was a warm Autumn eve in Paris. The leaves, red and crisp, were delicately floating off the trees — wait, what? Ok, scratch that. I’m just trying to set the scene! Basically, Cédric grew up in Paris and since this is where his story began I thought I’d do a little narrative but I guess I’ll stick to the more conventional way. Boring! Sorry, that was weird. *ahem* Let’s just begin, shall we?
Cédric attended a very reputable secondary school named Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris until 1992 when he left to study mathematics at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris – a centre for higher education outside of the public university system. Intriguing! Villani studied until 1996 and spent 4 more years here after he was appointed assistant professor. In 1998, he received his PhD on the mathematical theory of the Boltzmann equation from Paris Dauphine University before becoming professor at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon in 2000.
After a decade (sounds like a lot when you say it that way doesn’t it?) of working as a professor at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Cédric became the director of Pierre and Marie Curie University’s Institut Henri Poincaré. Interestingly, besides his mathematical and research based work, Cédric is also a passionate politician, sitting in the National Assembly which currently holds the majority in France. In 2017, he was elected president of the French Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices.
Cédric’s main work is focused on the theory of partial differential equations. He is known for his work particularly on Riemannian geometry and the Boltzmann Equation where he was the first to prove, alongside Laurent Desvillettes, how quickly convergence occurs for initial values not near equilibrium. He has also worked on nonlinear Landau damping, the theory of optimal transport and it’s applications as well as on defining bounded Ricci curvature for general measured length spaces. In addition, he also loves to explore the realms of fluid mechanics, probability theory, statistical mechanics and functional inequalities.
Today, Cédric works as a professor at the University of Lyon alongside his duties as politician and director of Institut Henri Poincaré. He travels around the world delivering inspiring talks on the mathematics all around us with his infectious passion and charming eccentricity.
You may be surprised to hear (considering his success) that Cédric was an extremely shy child. In fact, he was an extremely shy teenager and an extremely shy young adult! Despite the fact he gives public lectures almost every day, he may even still be shy – who knows? My point is that he didn’t let it hold him back. He persevered, followed what he loved and found faith and reassurance in it – heck, even a dash of confidence! And just look where he’s at now? The best bit is, he’s just like you and me (and the rest) plus somewhat more eccentric perhaps but I love him for that. You gotta watch his TED talks. Guy’s a legend. Seriously. Go do it. Now.
Awards and Achievements
- Jacques Herbrand Prize, 2007
- EMS Prize, 2008
- Fermat Prize, 2009
- Henri Poincaré Prize, 2009
- Fields Medal, 2010
- Joseph L. Doob Prize, 2014
For a full list of publications see http://cedricvillani.org/for-mathematicians/complete-list-of-publications/.