Journal of a solo mathematician

The graduate-school days are zooming away quickly from my life. It seems that the space of human memory is hyperbolic in nature. Things get thin and small at an exponential rate. I defended my thesis in July 2020 and reached India in August of the same year. The pandemic was in full swing. It was a conscious choice to return to my aging family who needed support.

Almost all of 2021 was spent on the paper that Chris and I were working on. It is an extension of the results in my doctoral thesis. We showed that connected boundary of a relatively hyperbolic group is locally connected. This removed some of the tameness restrictions that Bowditch’s theorem has on the peripheral subgroups. At the end of 2021, my advisor suggested that I should work on some projects alone.

For a few days, I felt like a radarless ship in the ocean of mathematics. Since I was not associated with any university at the time, research had to be a solo adventure. I decided to build a small research group at Cheenta. It is the organisation that I developed from scratch since 2010.

Cheenta was conceived as a training school for math olympiads for school students. Subsequently we have also accepted college students for university level programs. We already have a strong alumni and student base spread all around the world. I could easily get a few people who became curious about geometric group theory.

We started meeting weekly. In order to keep a psychological leverage, I put the meeting time on Tuesdays at 10:30 PM IST or 11 AM CST. In graduate school, that was the time when I met my advisor weekly. My brain-clock responded to this procedure and a group of 7 students was assembled for weekly adventures in geometric group theory.

2022 was also productive. I managed to prove a small theorem related to Dehn fillings and connectedness of Bowditch boundary. The entire team participated in a translation project of the famous green book by Ghys and Harpe from French to English. I also started collaborating with Arka Banerjee on another problem related to embedding of hyperbolic plane in relatively hyperbolic groups.

I hope 2023 will be productive. I want to understand how small cancellation theory, and splittings of relatively hyperbolic groups interact. It could be a powerful source of examples in group theory. Another area that interests me is the theory of hierarchically hyperbolic groups and spaces.

There are a few obstacles for my research activities. Books and journals are not easily available outside the university system. Access to conferences is hard. I was invited to speak at a conference in Ohio (to be held in April). However due to VISA and funding issues I was forced to decline the offer. There are few positive ends as well. My work at Cheenta allows me to have flexible work-hours and financial security. It also helps me to stay with my family at home.

Lets hope 2023 will be productive with what I have.


2 responses to “Journal of a solo mathematician”

  1. Souvik Sarkar Avatar
    Souvik Sarkar

    My comment is only somewhat tangentially related to this post. I had to send my message to you, and I couldn’t find your email address otherwise. So apologies in advance, but please bear with me.

    I have followed Cheenta’s journey for many years now, and have also interacted with you and Srijit on LinkedIn. Being a Bengali, I am very enthusiastic and excited about Cheenta and the culture of beautiful mathematics that it fosters.

    My comment primarily stems from a slight concern, that in search of breadth, Cheenta might lose its intensity and focus. For many years, Cheenta was unique in its space. But I know see competition arising, such as Although it is in its early days, but with the kind of talent pool they have, they will be a real competition for Cheenta when they attempt to monetize their efforts.

    I am sure that as you are in this space, you must be knowing about potential competitors for the business aspect of Cheenta. I request you to take care of it, as knowledge-based Bengali entrepreneurs are very rare nowadays.

    1. Ashani Dasgupta Avatar
      Ashani Dasgupta

      Dear Souvik,

      Thank you for the elaborate comment.

      Yes I am aware of Sophie Fellowship and a few other organisations who are trying to do good work in this space. In fact Sophie Fellowship has some ex-students of Cheenta as well.

      My personal vision about Cheenta is this: We train students for olympiads (math, physics, computer science), then encourage them to create research projects and entrepreneurial ventures.

      This is similar to the vision that Tagore had for Sriniketan, Recently we create a small makerslab in Calcutta and had a lot of fun creating some projects. One such project is known ‘Lathi’ (লাঠি), a smart walking stick for the blind that uses AI.

      Thank you for connecting. My email address is:

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