“The Normale is an ideal environment for those who have great goals”

By Vincenzo Barone*

“The Fields Medal awarded to Alessio Figalli confirms the tradition of educational excellence which distinguishes the Scuola Normale in all its basic subjects. In the field of Mathematics, great scholars have passed through the Normale: from Vito Volterra to Mauro Picone, from Guido Stampacchia to Aldo Andreotti, from Luigi Ambrosio to Camillo De Lellis (a professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton). Mathematicians such as Ennio De Giorgi and Enrico Bombieri also taught at the Normale, and all have contributed in turn to the education of other young scholars, in a virtuous cycle of transmission of knowledge and exchange of stimuli from the “eldest” to the youngest scholars and vice versa. Naturally Figalli’s is a pedigree talent, but it seems to me that such a talent found in this environment the ideal habitat to emerge, ferment and grow stronger.

At the Normale Figalli found his mentors, who soon became his “peers”; he also had the opportunity to meet others, thanks to the seminars which host important international scientific figures and to the co-tutorship exchanges which provide students with productive research experiences abroad. I would also like to underline the fact that Figalli attended a liceo classico and that that type of education, which at the beginning of his scientific studies at the Normale was a handicap, did not stop him from obtaining the prestigious results he has achieved. On the contrary: I believe that this type of education was very useful, providing him with a broadness of vision and an understanding of complexity, which goes to show that the dialogue between sciences and humanities, the two souls of the Scuola Normale, is fertile and rich in perspectives. From today, as well as the Nobel prize winners Fermi and Rubbia for physics, Carducci for literature, and the Presidents of the Republic Gronchi and Ciampi, we will be able to include amongst the most famous “normalisti” also the Fields Medal winner Alessio Figalli”.

*Director of Scuola Normale Superiore