Q&A with D. Dominique Kemp
D. Dominique Kemp, a Shiing-Shen Chern Member in the School of Mathematics, is interested in problems that connect harmonic analysis with geometry. In particular, he explores decoupling, restriction and Kakeya theory, and Böchner-Riesz theory. He obtained his Ph.D. in mathematics from Indiana University-Bloomington, being the first Black student ever to do so. Before arriving at IAS, Kemp held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, funded by the National Science Foundation.
How do you describe your work to friends and family?
Typically, I describe it as an endeavor to understand the interactions of oscillating waves (in the physical realm) and more broadly any mathematical phenomena that exhibit oscillatory behavior. Because multidimensional waves are not excluded, geometry and topology naturally arise as essential considerations and tools, a detail that greatly enriches the study.
What is one way you would like to impact your field?
I would like to play my part in pushing the frontier of what we know in the field. Currently, much is known about those waves with frequencies adhering to a nice geometric behavior, i.e. those exhibiting curvature. However, the territory between the two extremes of curvature and no curvature is vast and largely unknown. The beginning of my research career has been a series of small steps into this realm.
What motivates you as a researcher?
I think the challenge, creativity, and (purposeful) rigor of mathematical discovery and expression appeal to me. I enjoy the incredible scope of structured freedom to explore; the challenge of finding precise, systematic language to communicate concepts; the diversity of solutions possible for a single problem; and hidden connections between different realms of the science.
Where is your favorite place to think?
I enjoy thinking about mathematics in any reasonably quiet room that has a pleasant interior with bookcases and artwork, good lighting, and broad windows facing a park, meadow, or garden.
I accepted the postdoctoral position at IAS because of the wonderful opportunities for research and intellectual development here. In one way or another, the Institute attracts the world’s leading experts across the mathematical sciences, and I desire to learn and grow from their expertise. As well, I look forward to joining and living among a community of broad, innovative scholarship, a residential experience that
I’m sure I will savor for years to come.
What other activities or pastimes do you enjoy?
I enjoy playing piano, fitness, attending music and theater performances, visiting art museums and gardens, and hiking.
What is your favorite part about your career and work?
My favorite part about my career and work is the humanity of it. Mathematics, at its core, is like music in that it is the attempt of a human being to express a complex idea comprehensibly to other human beings. The struggle that such an endeavor requires, in terms of attaining a correct view of the concept and communicating it precisely, is a joy to experience and also, I think, inspiring to others to behold.