PUBlic Professor Series | Dr. Habiba Kadiri

Resilience in Mathematics

Dr. Habiba Kadiri, Department of Mathematics & Computer Science

"Math-anxiety" forms at an early age and often follows us into adulthood. Math isn't going anywhere. We use it to varied degrees throughout our lives. So how do we cope with the associated anxiety?

Solving a mathematical problem is a hurdle one encounters starting in elementary school. Attached to this is a unique educational issue known as “math-anxiety.” Resilience and persistence are essential skills in research, particularly in mathematics where problems can remain open for generations: the Riemann Hypothesis is a star conjecture that has been fascinating and challenging mathematicians and amateurs for over 160 years. It is a life-long endeavour for a female professional mathematician such as Kadiri to tackle problems, both mathematical and societal, and find resources to overcome them.

Habiba Kadiri is a French-born mathematician working in the field of number theory. She has been a faculty member at the University of Lethbridge since 2007. Before moving to Lethbridge, she was a postdoctoral fellow in Montreal, where she was a member of Andrew Granville’s (CRC I, FRSC) dynamic research group. Kadiri received her BSc (Licence, 1996) and MSc (Maitrise-DEA, 1998) from Universite de Bordeaux. She received her PhD from Universite de Lille in 2002.

Kadiri’s work is in number theory, in particular in analytic number theory. Some typical questions addressed in this field are: How many primes are there up to an arbitrarily large number? Are there infinitely many prime numbers p such that p+2 is also prime? Can all positive integers be represented as the sum of other special integers? (can all numbers be written as a sum of squares? as a sum of primes?) 

While these questions about numbers can be accessible to non-mathematicians, the methods developed to attack them in analytic number theory stem from analysis and probability. These unexpected connections attracted Kadiri to investigate quantitative questions about prime numbers by means of the analytic behaviour of the famous Riemann zeta function. She has established records for the zero-free region and for counting zeros of this function and best bounds for prime counting functions. She co-founded the Lethbridge Number Theory group in order to foster a productive and inclusive environment for research collaborations and the training of students. She has led successful projects thanks to the contributions of her diverse students and postdocs.

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