The Fields Medal is the highest accolade a mathematician can receive. As someone looking back from a high point in his career, what advice would you give to a young mathematician who was just starting out?
Prof. Martin Hairer : ‘The first thing they should honestly asses is what are the things that they like to do. I think they should really work on the things that they actually like and enjoy, and they shouldn’t try to just pick a subject because they have the impression that it is fashionable and that if it is fashionable they might be able to win a big prize.
‘At the end of the day there is a much greater chance that they will make some real progress if they think about something that is interesting to them. If you are generally interested in a problem then you always have it at the back of your mind, and that is the way you make progress on it. Whereas, if you work on it because you think you should work on a fashionable problem you wouldn’t actually always keep it at the back of your mind. Then it’s much less likely that you would make genuine progress on it.’