iTHEMS held exchange event with members of the Masason Foundation
RIKEN Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Program (iTHEMS) held its first exchange event with members of the Masason Foundation on Thursday, December 7th, 2023, as part of its efforts to nurture young talent for the future. Thirteen Foundation members, ranging in age from 9 to 26 years old, with interests in mathematics, physics, biology, AI, etc., and ten iTHEMS researchers participated in the event, engaging in high-level discussions and stimulating exchanges.
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RIKEN Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Program1 (iTHEMS) held its first exchange event with members of the Masason Foundation2 on Thursday, December 7th, 2023, as part of its efforts to nurture young talent for the future. Thirteen Foundation members, ranging in age from 9 to 26 years old, with interests in mathematics, physics, biology, AI, etc., and ten iTHEMS researchers participated in the event, engaging in high-level discussions and stimulating exchanges.
From iTHEMS, Deputy Program Director Shigehiro Nagataki gave an overview of iTHEMS at the beginning of the session, followed by a presentation by Dr. Taketo Sano, a special postdoctoral researcher, on invariants and their categorifications in relation to his research subject, low-dimensional topology3. Then, four members from the Masason Foundation gave presentations on their research in mathematics, biology, and quantum physics. The youngest presenter, 9 years old, introduced his research results on the Napier number (e=2.718...). The researchers listened attentively as he shared his excitement at suddenly finding a theorem about sequences that converge to the Napier number on the last day of a trip with his parents. A 13-year-old Foundation member (Ph.D. student) specializing in quantum physics presented his research results on quasi-particles called polarons. Bose polarons, understood as impurities in a Bose-Einstein condensate, have attracted much attention for their application in quantum simulations of the solid-state polaron. The young member introduced the current status of his research, including its experimental realizations and a more accurate theoretical description of Bose polarons. The attending iTHEMS researchers were impressed by the presentations.
During the free time, Masason Foundation members and iTHEMS researchers engaged in free and lively discussions on a wide range of topics, from the generalization of perfect numbers4 to discussions on a technique to obtain sequence data of mRNA transcripts from individual nuclei of cells (snRNA-seq) 5. After the event, iTHEMS received messages from the participating Masason Foundation members expressing their hopes to have another event, while iTHEMS researchers also reported having thoroughly enjoyed the stimulating interactions. iTHEMS will continue to support youth with high aspirations and exceptional talents who will lead the future.
- RIKEN Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Program
iTHEMS was established in 2016 at RIKEN as an international research program where researchers in theoretical science, mathematics, and computational science use mathematical methods to solve fundamental problems in the universe, matter, life, and society.
- Masason Foundation
Masason Foundation was established by Masayoshi Son, the Founder, Director, Corporate Officer, Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp., to contribute to the future of humankind by providing an environment that enables youth with high aspirations and exceptional talents to develop their skills. The Foundation supports Foundation members selected through an international application and selection process, including providing shared facilities, holding events, and disbursement of support grants.
- Invariants & Categorifications
For example, upgrading the Euler number (an integer), which is an invariant, as the homology group (a graded vector space) can be interpreted, from a modern perspective, as a form of categorification. Around the year 2000, categorification has become one of the guiding principles in mathematics, particularly in knot theory. The Jones polynomial, a knot invariant introduced by V. Jones in the 1980s, was successfully categorified by M. Khovanov in 2000 as a doubly graded homology group, now known as the Khovanov homology.
- Perfect Numbers
There was a presentation on perfect numbers by a Masason Foundation member (13 years old) at the event. A perfect number is a positive integer that is equal to the sum of its positive divisors, excluding the number itself. The perfect numbers less than 10000 are 6, 28, 496 and 8128. No odd perfect number is known. The Masason Foundation member (13 years old) introduced “phi square perfect numbers”, and he showed that (i) the even perfect numbers are the phi square perfect numbers, (ii) there are odd phi square perfect numbers, and (iii) there are some particular families in them.
Single-nuclei RNA sequencing is a technique to obtain sequence data of mRNA transcripts from individual nuclei of cells. A Masason Foundation member (20 years old) is currently analyzing data from blood samples of over 800 patients collected using snRNA-seq. The Masason Foundation member explained the outline of snRNA-seq, some of the limitations of the process, data cleaning steps, and possible questions that could be tackled with this dataset.