Cédric Villani is a French mathematician who attended the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, studying there from 1992 to 1996. In 1998, he completed his PhD on the mathematical theory of the Boltzman equation. From 2000 to 2010, Villani was a professor at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and is now at the Lyon University.
Villani describes how he enjoys topics that combine several of the following areas in mathematics: Evolution partial differential equations, Fluid mechanics, Statistical mechanics, Probability theory, Smooth and non-smooth “metric” Riemannian geometry and Functional inequalities with geometric content.
More particularly, his main work has been on kinetic theory: Boltzmann and Vlasov equations and their variants, and, more recently, optimal transport and its applications to differential geometry. For his work, he has received many awards and honours including the Henri Poincaré Prize and the Fermat Prize in 2009 and the prestigious Fields Medal in 2010.
In addition to this, in 2015 he released a part-autobiographical book called ‘Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure’, which recounts the story of the three years leading up to the Fields Medal, inviting readers inside his mind as he tackles the most important work of his career.
Personally, I love Villani. Yes, he’s an eclectic character – always seen wearing mid-century clothes – but he is a great speaker. I thoroughly recommend his book and I’ve listed below some interesting links if you’re interested in finding out more about him.