Sandro Contenta in The Star:
Robert Langlands enjoys daily walks up Mount Royal. At 78, he climbs with sure steps, weaving along beaten paths to the cemeteries on the mountain’s north side.
He takes those hikes when he is back at his Montreal condo, between semesters at the renowned Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, N.J., where Langlands has been a professor for more than 40 years.
His destination, the bright summer day when the Star first caught up with him, was the gravesite of writer Mordecai Richler, on a spot called Rose Hill. It was hot, the air was alive with birds, and tombstones rose and fell as if on a wave of green. Death seemed almost acceptable. But Langlands strolls the graveyards for a different kind of inner peace.
“If you’re lucky, it’s a way to stop thinking,” he says. “The wheels don’t stop so easily after a while.”
Langlands, a Canadian, is one of the world’s great mathematicians. His universe is the outer limits of pure mathematics, a rarefied realm where abstract objects exist, infinity is corralled and symmetry reigns.
In 1967, as a young professor at Princeton University, he revolutionized the ancient discipline. He discovered patterns in highly esoteric objects called automorphic forms and motives, and he restructured mathematics with two dazzling theories.
More here. [Thanks to Jennifer Oullette.]