June 29, 2018
Perhaps you can compare her to a top athlete who trains hard for years to achieve a goal. Only in her case it’s not about faster, higher, further, but about mathematical proofs. “This feeling, when you have proven something new, which no one has ever achieved before, and which can no longer be refuted - this feeling is indescribably beautiful,” says Jessica Fintzen. “It’s such a wonderful feeling to take on all the frustration experienced on the long and hard road in reaching this goal.”
In her doctoral thesis, the 29-year-old graduate of Jacobs University Bremen proved something new and received two awards: the doctoral prize awarded by the “Association of Women in Mathematics” in the US and the Friedrich Hirzebruch Doctoral Prize awarded by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation.
“On the Moy-Prasad filtration and stable vectors” is the title of her Harvard University thesis. Only a few are likely to understand what it is all about. The prizewinner believes that there are two very different areas of mathematics that are mysteriously connected with each other. The German Academic Scholarship Foundation describes these areas as follows: “...a full understanding of which could have profound effects on our daily lives, for example in data encryption.”
When she was still at school she had already embarked on a quest to “discover the beautiful structures of mathematics,” as she says. Raised in Quickborn near Hamburg, she participated in the “Jugend forscht” [Young researchers] competition, became a national winner and traveled to the International Mathematical Olympiad in Madrid. “I find mathematics fascinating because everything is so logical,” says Jessica Fintzen. Once something is proven, it is proven forever. In addition, mathematics can be done anywhere - all that is needed is paper, pen and access to other publications.
How does research in mathematics work? “Reflecting, thinking, more thinking, reading other publications, learning a lot, thinking for yourself, thinking, learning new methods, thinking, more thinking, rejecting ideas, testing new ideas, trying out examples to get new ideas, testing different methods, thinking, reflecting, mulling things over, hoping for brainstorms, learning more, trying out more.”