Well, this is it. Half an hour to go until we begin the 3 hours that will judge the past 4.5 years of my life. Yes folks, it is my thesis defence!
It is pretty nerve-wracking for anyone to have their work closely scrutinised by a group of experts, but I think it is especially so for a mathematician. The standards of rigour and clarity are exceptionally high, and it is easy to work on a problem by yourself for a long time and not see subtle errors creeping in. Myself, I’ve not talked about my thesis since last summer, so I am expecting lots of corrections from my examiners. And to have to explain things in detail that I’ve never had to consider before.
Despite the nerves, I’m pretty excited too. As mentioned in a previous post, this is the one time in my life when I get to talk about my work to people who have spent a month reading it and trying to understand it. Perhaps we will even shed new light on some of the problems I failed to solve.
And on top of the fear and excitement is a sort of melancholy. It’s the end of an era today; the end of being a student, the end of being a research mathematician (at least for the time being) and the end of thinking about all the problems in my thesis. I may go back and think about some of them again, but realistically this is unlikely to happen unless I am surrounded by other mathematicians interested in the same ideas.
Many thanks to all the people who have wished me (and Julia) luck via email, Twitter and Facebook. Your support means a lot, and I will report back with the result soon enough. Fingers crossed!