Berlin Mathematical School
This is the spirit in which the Berlin Mathematical School (BMS) was born with the aim of attracting promising young mathematicians to Berlin and offering them an excellent environment for postgraduate study. "We are delighted that the graduate school got off to a good start, according to plan. We and everyone involved will make sure that the high level is maintained," say the satisfied initiators from Humboldt-Universität, the Freie Universität Berlin and the Technische Universität Berlin.
The BMS targets graduates with a master's or bachelor's degree in mathematics who want to do a doctorate in a structured and closely supervised program. The school therefore offers training in two phases, combining the strengths of German doctoral training with the merits of successful U.S. graduate schools. The concept of the graduate school is as follows. Phase I lasts for 3 to 4 semesters and offers a program of lectures in seven research areas that reflect the strengths of the three mathematics institutes. These include analysis, geometry and mathematical physics, algebra and number theory, stochastics and financial mathematics, discrete mathematics and optimization, visualization and geometry processing, numerical mathematics and scientific computing, mathematical modelling and applied analysis.
During Phase I, the students are given broad mathematical training, and this lays the foundation for their future specialization. The classes are held at the three participating universities, and teaching takes place on different days at each university. One advantage for the graduates of Phase I is that, as in the U.S. graduate system, they don't need to do a master's degree. Phase II, which takes four to six semesters, begins immediately after an oral examination. As a rule, the students engage in research in one of Berlin's four DFG Research Training Groups in mathematics, or one of two International Max Planck Research Schools in Berlin, which cooperate with the BMS.
Claudia Hein is a PhD student in a DFG Research Training Group entitled 'Stochastic Models of Complex Processes' (SMCP) and is working on an application-oriented subject. The Research Training Group provides general knowledge of stochastics and offers specialized training in areas of modern probability theory. The aim is to learn modern mathematical techniques and to apply them to specific problems relating to physics, biology, climatology or finance. The spectrum that is covered ranges from modelling and theoretical analysis to numerical simulation and statistical regression. In her doctoral thesis, Claudia Hein would like to use mathematical models to find out more about the behaviour of electricity prices. If she succeeds in this, these models could help companies to hedge better against fluctuations in these prices. She laid the foundation for her thesis during her undergraduate dissertation, which she also wrote at the BMS. Her work was based on climate data from the ice-core drilling project in Greenland, in which the precipitations of many thousands of years lie on top of each other as layers of ice, yielding information about the history of the Earth's climate. She now wants to apply the mathematical model she calibrated for that work to the energy market. The young scientist is delighted that she was already able to work on such a challenging subject as a postgraduate and is enthusiastic about the school's concept in general. "Regular additional courses like the BMS Fridays encourage you to see the bigger picture," she says. The BMS Friday is where the Berlin-based mathematics students meet for discussions.
At the BMS, which takes on an average of 40 PhD students a year, women are still in the minority, but there are plans to change that. The target is a share of between 38 to 50 percent both for women and for foreign students. After all, the graduate school places great emphasis not only on scientific excellence, but also on equal opportunities for men and women and internationalism. International students in Berlin are looked after from the outset by staff at the BMS's One-Stop Office to make sure they feel at home and don't waste time or get frustrated by bureaucratic hurdles. This is the place to go to solve all practical and administrative problems – from visa issues to organizing language courses and getting help finding accommodation. Thanks to the support from the Excellence Initiative, the BMS can offer a scholarship to about half of the Phase I students and a quarter of those in Phase II. 'Lounges' offering a place to meet and chat have been set up at each university to help students in both phases feel at ease. The participating scientists also do their best to create a welcoming and stimulating atmosphere.
'Mathematics as a Whole' is one of the guiding principles of the BMS. The BMS Fridays are held twice a month during semesters at the Urania Berlin to provide insights outside the students' respective field of specialization. Whether the subject is multiscale systems in climate research or classic problems of number theory – here, mathematicians from Germany and abroad open up a perspective on the larger scheme of things and on the latest developments, providing material for passionate discussion. Female students can enjoy a special 'treat': prominent female mathematicians from Germany and abroad present their research at the 'Kovalevskaya Lectures', where female students can also learn a lot about how women's scientific careers work. The BMS Days are the highlight of every year: this is the annual meeting of the mathematics community with connections to the Berlin Mathematical School. It is open to scientists and students, as well as to the current applicants who are hoping to start their studies at the BMS in the following autumn.
- Freie Universität Berlin
- Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
- Technische Universität Berlin
Research Training Groups
- Arithmetic and Geometry
- Analysis, Numerics and Optimization of Multiphase Problems
- Stochastic Models of Complex Processes
- Models for Discrete Structures
International Max Planck Research Schools
- Computational Biology and Scientific Computing
- Geometric Analysis, Gravitation and String Theory