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Dr Simon Marais Memorial Lecture

Bringing world renowned experts in mathematics and theoretical physics
Get inspired by Dr Simon Marais, one of Australia’s most-respected investors, remembered for his extraordinary intelligence, uncompromising integrity and fearless attitude.

Established in 2016, this annual memorial lectureship commemorates Dr Simon Marais’ interest and commitment to mathematics, theoretical physics and education. The University of Sydney was entrusted to continue his passion by his family to inspire our students to pursue mathematics and theoretical physics, strengthen the research community in these fields and engage the general public in these fields of work. The inaugural memorial lecture was held in 2017.

Dr Simon Marais

About Dr Simon Marais

Dr Simon Marais was born in a rural town of Upington, South Africa in 1964. After obtaining a Master of Science at Stellenbosch University and a PhD in theoretical physics at Cambridge, he brought a compelling new style of ‘contrarian’ investing to the Australian funds management industry.

Working as Founder, Chief Executive and portfolio manager at fund manager Allan Gray Australia, Chairman of Allan Gray South Africa and previously as head of research at the global investment management firm Orbis Group, he built a reputation as the outstanding asset manager of his generation.

Dr Marais was compassionate, humble and passionate about conservation throughout his life. He was committed to teaching his children and would tutor his sons in maths irrespective of how demanding his professional schedule became. A constant source of inspiration to friends, colleagues and the mathematics students he tutored in his spare time, his essential optimism and leadership endures.

Past Lectures

2018: Decoding spacetime -The quantum computational universe

Presented by Professor Patrick Hayden, Stanford University – expert in physics and computer science, active in the fields of quantum information theory and quantum computing.

The amazing versatility of modern computers disguises their fundamental simplicity. In the near future, computers exploiting the strangeness of quantum mechanics will accomplish tasks that would defeat even the largest, fastest bit-based supercomputers.

Quantum computation isn’t just a technological advance, though. It could hold the key to explaining the origin of space itself. The same techniques that will be used to protect delicate quantum computer memories from corruption appear to be used by nature to stitch together the fabric of spacetime. This exciting public talk will be a tour of this remarkable confluence of the practical and the fundamental.

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2017: The mathematics of deja vu

Presented by Professor Amie Wilkinson, University of Chicago

Dynamics is an exciting area of mathematics concerned with the motion of spaces ("dynamical systems") over time. It continues to have applications in a wide variety of fields such as physics, biology, chemistry, medicine and economics. Professor Wilkinson answers questions using a mathematical version of déjà vu called 'recurrence'; including how we can mix and unmix two ideal gases in a box and describing the deep properties of the prime numbers or the existence of exoplanets in nearby solar systems.

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