Number Theory in the Americas

Start Date
End Date
Casa Matemática Oaxaca 
Meeting Type
collaboration conference 
Contact Name


In many Latin American countries, political instability, institutional weakness and a lack of government support for scientific research have hindered the development of mathematics. There have been signs of progress in recent years. In 2014, Brazilian mathematics received international recognition when Artur Avila became the first South American to be awarded a Fields Medal. In 2018, the International Congress of Mathematicians will be hosted in a Latin American country for the first time. Within the last five years, several major conferences, such as the Mathematical Congress of the Americas, the AGRA winter schools, and PRIMA 2017, have been organized with the specific aim of increasing mathematical activity in Latin American countries.

In spite of all of this progress, there is still room for improvement. Number theory research in South and Central America continues to be largely confined to geographically isolated pockets of activity, concentrated within a small number of subfields. Many of the strongest math students go abroad for their training, in some cases because they cannot find viable Ph.D. supervisors in the research areas that they hope to pursue in their home countries. In most areas, Latin American mathematicians continue to be poorly represented at major international conferences. The proposed workshop aims to address some of these issues. Our main objectives are as follows:

Facilitate collaboration between North, Central, and South American number theorists.

The primary aim of the proposed workshop is to promote collaboration between number theorists in North, Central, and South America. To do this, we will model our workshop after several other workshops that have been extremely successful at sparking new collaborations: the American Institute of Mathematics workshops, the AMS Mathematics Research Communities workshops, and the BIRS-sponsored Women In Numbers workshops. Participants will be divided into small project groups led by senior researchers. Most of the time during the workshop will be spent working on research in these project groups. The goal is for researchers to leave the workshop with the beginning of a research paper or, at least, with a list of good candidates for future collaborators and a deeper understanding of a timely subject.

Foster research in timely areas of number theory. All of our confirmed participants have impressive research track records, and several are leading mathematicians by world standards. All of our project groups are on areas central to current research in the field, and all of these areas can also be said to lie in the crossroads between number theory and other fields. In several cases, this requires little explanation: the study of the arithmetic of algebraic varieties lies in the intersection of number theory and algebraic geometry; the study of modular forms, which originated in complex analysis, has been essential to number theorists since Ramanujan. The Langlands program is inherently about building connections, particularly with representation theory.

Continuing with our list of topics: additive combinatorics is a relatively new name for an area that encompasses additive number theory, combinatorial arguments and probabilistic and ergodic ideas. The importance of analytical tools to number theory has been clear since Riemann, and the relevance of harmonic analysis and spectral theory has become clearer and clearer since the mid-20th century. Probabilistic arguments in number theory have been fruitful ever since Erd\H{o}s and Tur\'an. The relevance of ergodic theory and dynamical systems to number theory has been known at least since Furstenberg and Ratner. Geometry and number theory often give two different perspectives on arithmetic groups. In particular, spectral gaps and expanders are terrains where number theory, spectral theory and geometry meet.

Train young researchers. Rather than filling the workshop with invited participants, we will reserve some spaces for young researchers who can apply to work in project groups that match their interests. One of our aims is to provide specialized training for young researchers in Latin American countries and introduce them to interesting problems in areas that may not be well-represented in their home countries. In some cases, this will be their first experience with working on a collaborative project. We will take steps to create a supportive environment so that young researchers will feel encouraged by the experience. We will also hold several panel discussions on topics that will be of particular interest to young researchers (see the Overview for more details).

Provide mentoring opportunities for mathematicians who normally do not get to train young researchers. The project groups are designed to provide a vertical mentoring structure, enabling mathematicians at different stages of their careers to mentor one another. Some of our participants may be faculty members at institutions without Ph.D. programs, and some will come from countries where it is typical for the strongest students to go abroad for graduate school. Such participants will have an exceptional chance to mentor promising young researchers in their project groups.

Attract greater visibility for the work of Latin American number theorists. A growing number of Latin Americans are working in number theory. By assembling this group, we will demonstrate that there is, in fact, already a fair number of strong number theorists connected to Latin American countries. Holding our workshop at the CMO, and advertising it on the BIRS website, will lend them additional prominence.

Build a network of Spanish-speaking mathematicians. This workshop will provide the foundation for creating a global network of Spanish-speaking mathematicians. In particular, we plan to start an online community -- including a mailing-list and possibly a more visible database -- of self-identified Spanish-speaking number theorists from around the world, organized by research area, which we hope will be useful to future conference organizers. The defining criterion will be an ability and willingness to lecture and work in Spanish.


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