The 1998 Kyoto Prize
1998
11 /11 Wed
Place：Kyoto International Conference Center
The 1998 Kyoto Prize Kyoto Prize Laureates
Lecture topics
From Nature to Natural Science
Abstract of the lecture
I was born and raised in the rural environment of a small town in Switzerland, where my early childhood was spent in close contact with nature and I got used to detailed observation of plants and animals. My education added degrees in mathematics, physics, chemistry and physical education, and participation in competitive sports became an important hobby. My professional career led to a professorship in a technical university. Today I find myself in a hightech job, using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy for research in structural biology, and I am also the chairman of the Biology Department at my university. In this lecture I review some stations of my life, and reflect on the ways in which the different activities pursued over the years contributed to my development as a scientist and as a human being.
Lecture topics
My Sixty Years along the Path of Probability Theory
Abstract of the lecture
Ever since I was a student, I have been attracted to the fact that statistical laws reside in seemingly random phenomena. Although I knew that probability theory was a means of describing such phenomena, I was not satisfied with contemporary papers or works on probability theory, since they did not clearly define the random variable, the basic element of probability theory. At that time, few mathematicians regarded probability theory as an authentic mathematical field, in the same strict sense that they regarded differential and integral calculus. With clear definition of real numbers formulated at the end of the19th century, differential and integral calculus had developed into an authentic mathematical system. When I was a student, there were few researchers in probability; among the few were Kolmogorov of Russia, and Paul Levy of France. In1938, upon graduation from university, I joined the Cabinet Statistics Bureau, where, until I became an associate professor at Nagoya University, I worked for five years. During those five years I had much free time, thanks to the special consideration given me by then Director Kawashima (grandfather of Princess Akishino). Accordingly, I was able to continue studying probability theory, by reading Kolmogorov's Basic Concept of Probability Theory (1933) and Paul Levy's Theory of Sum of Independent Random Variables (1937). At that time, it was commonly believed that Levy's works were extremely difficult, since Levy, a pioneer in the new mathematical field, explained probability theory based on his intuition. I attempted to describe Levy's ideas, using precise logic that Kolmogorov might use. Introducing the concept of regularization, developed by Doob of the U.S., I finally devised stochastic differential equations, after painstaking solitary endeavors. My first paper was thus developed; today, it is common practice for mathematicians to use my method to describe Levy's theory. In precisely built mathematical structures, mathematicians find the same sort of beauty others find in enchanting pieces of music, or in magnificent architecture. There is, however, one great difference between the beauty of mathematical structures and that of great art. Music by Mozart, for instance, impresses greatly even those who do not know musical theory; the cathedral in Cologne overwhelms spectators even if they know nothing about Christianity. The beauty in mathematical structures, however, cannot be appreciated without understanding of a group of numerical formulae that express laws of logic. Only mathematicians can read "musical scores" containing many numerical formulae, and play that "music" in their hearts. Accordingly, I once believed that without numerical formulae, I could never communicate the sweet melody played in my heart. Stochastic differential equations, called "Itô Formula," are currently in wide use for describing phenomena of random fluctuations over time. When I first set forth stochastic differential equations, however, my paper did not attract attention. It was over ten years after my paper that other mathematicians began reading my "musical scores" and playing my "music" with their "instruments." By developing my "original musical scores" into more elaborate "music," these researchers have contributed greatly to developing "Itô Formula." In recent years, I find that my "music" is played in various fields, in addition to mathematics. Never did I expect that my "music" would be found in such various fields, its echo benefiting the practical world, as well as adding abstract beauty to the field of mathematics. On this opportunity of the Kyoto Prize lectures, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude and render homage to my senior researchers, who repeatedly encouraged me, hearing subtle sounds in my "Unfinished Symphony."
Lecture topics
Norbert Wiener and Marshall Mcluhan: Communication Revolution
Abstract of the lecture
We will study the texts of Norbert Wiener and Marshal McLuhan and discover the common denominator between the two thinkers (Mix-media... simulation of electronics and human nerve system... indeterminism...). Wiener used these characteristics as the micro-form to construct the technical interior of the electronic age, whereas McLuhan used them as the macro-form to interpret the psychological and sociological exterior of the electronic age. World peace and survival of the earth is public interest number 1 and must be interest number 1 of public television.What we need now is a champion of free trade, who will form a Video Common Market modeled after the European Common Market in it's spirit and procedure. McLuhan's premature high hope for the Global Village via TV is based on an obscure book, "The Bias of Communication", by H. A. Innis (1951) which traced the origin of nationalism to the invention of movable type. But, ironically, today's video culture is far more nationalistic than print media. You cannot escape Camus or Sartre in a book store. But do you remember seeing a production of French TV recently? TV cameras are so busily following the latest outbreaks of violence that kids, who receive most of their education from TV, think that Switzerland and Norway are chunks of real estate lying somewhere in the Milky Way.