Professor Dr. Dr. Katrin Tent
Katrin Tent is a professor of mathematics and mathematical logic. She specializes in group theory, geometry and model theory.
Her work often combines methods from these areas to prove unexpected results; this can mean constructing groups or incidence geometries with surprising model theoretic properties, or conversely using model theory to construct new and interesting geometries or groups.
Some recent important contributions of Katrin Tent concern so-called sharply 2- and 3-transitive groups.
Katrin Tent, born in 1963, studied linguistics, mathematics and computer science at the University of Kiel and received her doctorate in linguistics. In 1994, she completed her PhD in mathematics at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA. After research stays at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the University of Würzburg, where she received the Bavarian Habilitation Scholarship, she accepted a position at the University of Birmingham. In 2004 she was appointed professor at the University of Bielefeld. She has been a professor at the WWU Münster since 2008.
Katrin Tent is a member of numerous panels including the Research Council of the University of Münster and the expert panel for ERC Consolidator Grants (2016 and 2018). She was elected to the DFG Senate in 2019.
What is the most beautiful aspect about being a mathematician for you?
The best and, in my point of view, most beautiful aspect of mathematics is its creativity. I enjoy the freedom to find and create the right concepts that can be used to describe the mathematical problems I am investigating. Think of the prime numbers! It's a concept that is easy to explain and still has the most striking applications!
In some cases, creating such a concept is already a big step towards solving the problem. In classification results, finding the right concept can be the crucial ingredient that clarifies and distinguishes classes of structures. And of course, one can get really creative when one is trying to disprove a conjecture: there are no boundaries to the ideas one might employ in order to construct some unexpected counterexamples.
Looking back, what was the most important moment in your career?
I was on my way to the playground with my children and I still remember the turn in the path where I had the crucial idea that solved a problem I had been working on for more than a year. Solving this problem moved my work from the model theory community towards the group theory context and eventually opened the door to a permanent position. Since there hadn't been any model theory positions in Germany for a long time, this was what allowed me to stay in mathematical research and build up a model theory group in Münster.