Opening Remarks and History of the math talks

On April 6, 1972 a young graduate student named Hugh Montgomery and the world-renowned mathematical physicist Freeman Dyson had a conversation in the tearoom at the Institute for Advanced Study which led to a fusion of two disparate fields and an intellectual revolution that is stronger than ever today.  Montgomery and Dyson discovered that the zeros of the Riemann zeta-function, important for understanding prime numbers, seem to obey the same distribution patterns as the eigenvalues of large random unitary (or hermitian) matrices, which had been extensively studied by physicists, especially to model the interactions within large atomic nuclei. This stunning connection has held up to extensive numerical and theoretical tests over the intervening years and has been extended to give random matrix models for the low lying zeros of families of L-functions and for the moments and distribution of values of the L-functions in these families and to analogous families over function fields. This conference will bring together 130 mathematical scientists to a meeting that will highlight the progress and the state of the art of results at the nexus of these two fields and will underline the questions most pertinent for further research.



Jon Keating
Hugh Montgomery