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“Mathematics is an infinite puzzle“

Started as a Romanian exchange student, Dr. Sorin-Mihai Grad teaches and researches today at the Professorship for Applied Mathematics (Approximation theory) at TU Chemnitz

  • After the lecture, the blackboard is always fully written: Dr. Sorin-Mihai Grad tries to teach his students the mathematical relations in an illustrative manner. Photo: Andy Schäfer

“Mathematics is an infinite puzzle – there is always something to discover“, Dr. Sorin-Mihai Grad explains what makes him love the mathematics. His aptitude for numbers was evident to the mathematician, who holds a doctorate, already at an early age, when Grad was allowed to attend a special class for Math due to his good performance. Born in the Romanian town of Satu Mare, he participated in the local national olympiad in this field and achieved very good results. Grad later attended a college in his hometown, where he received instruction also in English. “Mathematics for me was something, where I saw myself“, he says about his decision to pursue the subject academically.

Thus, it was not surprising that he enrolled at the Babeş-Bolyai University from the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca (in German Klausenburg), where he graduated in 2001. A scholarship from the Saxon State Ministry of Science and Art, in the framework of a long-standing university partnership between the two universities, led him to TU Chemnitz. There he met Prof. Dr. Gert Wanka, who heads the Professorship of Applied Mathematics (Approximation theory) at TU Chemnitz. He supervised the diploma thesis of Sorin-Mihai Grad together with Dr. Radu Ioan Bo? and Prof. Dr. Dorel Duca. After defending it in 2001 in Cluj-Napoca, the mathematician decided to study for a Master’s degree in Real and Complex Analysis. He prepared his master thesis on Entropy Optimization again as an exchange student in Chemnitz, to defend it at the Babeş-Bolyai University. After successful applying for a doctoral fellowship of the Karl- and Ruth-Mayer Foundation at Technische Universität Chemnitz, Sorin-Mihai Grad decided to move to Chemnitz on a permanent basis. “We were several doctoral students and there was a very good cooperation in the research group“, Dr. Grad describes those days. He achieved his doctoral degree in 2006 with a thesis entitled ”New insights into conjugate duality“.

After obtaining the doctorate, he decided to continue to work in Chemnitz in the framework of a research project financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG). In the same time he wrote together with Prof. Gert Wanka and Dr. Radu Ioan Bo? a monograph on vector optimization, published by Springer-Verlag in 2009. Dr. Grad is grateful to both of them for always supporting him on his academic path. While working within a follow-up DFG-project he prepared his habilitation thesis on “Recent advances in vector optimization and set-valued analysis via convex duality“, which was published in 2014 by Springer-Verlag and granted him the entitlement to give academic lectures in Math. Dr. Grad, who is a Adj. Professor at TU Chemnitz since April this year, is keen on teaching students, who come with different mathematical backgrounds and study various disciplines, and the mathematical notions as close to practice as possible. “When preparing lectures, I always try to anticipate possible questions from the students, thus I need to have at hand the necessary examples as well as counter-examples“, says the 35-year-old. He is currently conducting research on vector optimization in the framework of another DFG-project.

That through Mathematics one can establish many international contacts and expand existing ones, is proven not only by Dr. Grad’s career. For years, the Professorship of Applied Mathematics (Approximation theory) has been having many academic relations abroad. A way of making contacts that enable scientific exchanges and help expanding one’s scientific network is by visiting conferences. “In our research group we have good contacts with mathematicians from Canada, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Australia, Turkey, Mongolia and within Europe“, Dr. Grad enumerates. A very intensive collaboration takes place with the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science from the Babeş-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca, through student exchanges and joint projects. Overall, since 2003 five graduates from the Babeş-Bolyai University have achieved their PhD degrees in the field of mathematical optimization at the Professorship of Applied Mathematics (Approximation theory) in Chemnitz, two of them having successfully brought their habilitations to an end here as well. Due to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bo?, who came from Romania to Chemnitz before Dr. Grad, there are close contacts with the University of Vienna, too. Generally, the former doctorate students from abroad remained in touch with the Professorship of Applied Mathematics (Approximation theory) in Chemnitz. On the other hand, a number of mathematicians were guests of the professorship, giving talks and discussing here their work. In this way, scientific ideas are exchanged and new cooperation projects are developed. Notable examples are the visits of Prof. Dr. Boris Mordukhovich (2009) from Wayne State University Detroit and Prof. Dr. Heinz Bauschke (2011) from the University of British Columbia Okanagan Kelowna, who are internationally known for their work in the fields of Variational and Convex Analysis, respectively.

However, building mathematical bridges is not the only activity that fascinates Dr. Sorin-Mihai Grad. Besides his skills with numbers, Dr. Grad is a poet, having published in 2010 a poetry collection under the title of “SUROGAT“, in the Romanian language. Moreover, he is a co-founder and editor of the Romanian cultural e-zine EgoPHobia. “Social, cultural, personal – it touches a wide range of subjects“, says Dr. Grad about his poetry and further remarks: “After all, life itself has many different facets.“

An overview of the international cooperation of the Professorship of Applied Mathematics can be found here:

(Author: Andy Schäfer, Translation: Nataliia Boiko)

Katharina Thehos

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