March 22, 2019

Making the most of zeros

picture of Ade Irma Suriajaya

Ade Irma Suriajaya, Special Postdoctoral Researcher

Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences (iTHEMS)

How and when did you join RIKEN?

As I was finalizing my PhD thesis in 2016, I saw an ad saying that RIKEN wanted to hire pure mathematicians to become part of its interdisciplinary group. 

Please describe your role at RIKEN

I’m a postdoctoral researcher in mathematics, specializing in analytic number theory. I’m able to contribute to a number of projects as part of the Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences (iTHEMS) team. 

Please briefly describe your current research? 

I look at how to apply the analytic properties of zeta functions and L-functions, especially the distribution of zeros, across many scientific disciplines. For example, it has been known for quite some time that zeta functions of various kinds often appear in quantum physics. They are also used as a means to regularize divergent sums, which sometimes appear in physics. I hope to be able to help these fields make even better and more complex use of zeta functions.

My research is important to society because….”

...without the nontrivial zeros of the Riemann zeta function, nobody could trust online platforms to keep their personal information safe, for example. Classical cryptography relies on the zeros of the Riemann zeta function and Dirichlet L-functions, the simplest form of zeta function and L-functions, and these allow people to lock their electronic devices and make online payments safely!

image of Ade Irma Suriajaya

How did you become interested in your current field of research?

I originally started an undergraduate course in Aeronautical Engineering, but I fell so hard for calculus that within two or three years I was sure that pure mathematics was what I wanted to work on for the rest of my life. I am so thankful. I know I can never be any happier than I am now, and I’m sure I will feel the same way for the rest of my life. Integrals here and there are the best things to find!

What excites you the most about your current research?

When I encounter new things in scientific talks. I always (unintentionally) want to see if they can be linked to zeta functions. I just love zeta functions, even the ones that do not look like classical zeta functions and don’t have interesting zeros. I still want to try to understand how people might make use of them.

Please tell us about your personal goals.

I’m also pretty obsessed with languages. I'm fluent in six and I'm currently working on another. 

How has being at RIKEN helped your research?

RIKEN provides access to mathematical papers and technology. For example, we work with Wolfram Mathematica, a computing system that deals with technical computing—including neural networks, machine learning, image processing, geometry, data science, visualizations, and more. Furthermore, I get to travel a lot internationally to learn techniques and methods from prominent figures in analytic number theory and zeta function theory.

What is the best thing about working at RIKEN?

I appreciate the encouragement I get to try new things, not only financially, but also in terms of enthusiasm. For example, I’ve been allowed to organize seminars on cutting-edge mathematics as well as a conference, which will be held in March 2019.