Thursday, June 03, 2004

Princeton math oral exams

Via Michael Nielsen, the Princeton Math Department Graduate Student Guide to Generals (their oral exams).

I found the following excerpt hilarious: this is the start of an orals transcript, with a commitee consisting of John Conway, Andrew Wiles, and Charles Fefferman (speakers are marked with lastname-firstletter:

C: "So who is the chair of this committee?"
F (scratching head): "I think it's one of you two."
W: "Is it me?"
C: "I don't know... Perhaps it's me."
W: "How will this be determined?"
F: "Does it matter??"
C: "Let me find out from the office downstairs."

(Just as he was about to leave, I informed Prof. Conway he was chair.
A similar discussion then ensued as to what my special topics were!!
It was quite entertaining. But at last, we were all ready to begin.)

C: "So who wants to ask the first question?"

(Everyone kept looking at Conway. (He was chair after all.) )

C: "Hey, why is everyone looking at me?!?"

(Another entertaining dispute followed.
Finally, Prof. Fefferman agreed to start.)

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