A one-hour biographical documentary, Julia Robinson and Hilbert's Tenth Problem tells the story of an important American mathematician against a background of mathematical ideas.
Julia Robinson, a pioneer among American women in mathematics, rose to prominence in a field where often she was the only woman. Julia Robinson was the first woman elected to the mathematical section of the National Academy of Sciences, and the first woman to become president of the American Mathematical Society. Her work, and the exciting story of the path that led to the solution of Hilbert's tenth problem in 1970, produced an unusual friendship between Russian and American colleagues at the height of the cold war. In this film, Robinson's major contribution to the solution of H10 triggers a tour of 20th century mathematics that moves from Paris in 1900, through the United States, to the Soviet Union and back. Following the passionate pursuit of an unsolved problem by several individuals in different countries adds to the emotional intensity of the mathematical quest.
The film covers important events in the history of modern mathematics while conveying the motivations of mathematicians, and exploring the relationship between mathematical research and the development of computers. The key protagonists and advisors to the project are recognized as the most prominent in their fields.
Julia Robinson's story, and the presence of prominent women in mathematics in the film, should inspire young women to pursue educational opportunities and careers in mathematics.
Julia Robinson and Hilbert's Tenth Problem is a video portrait of Julia Robinson. The biographical documentary features a heroine, captivated by the lure of unsolved mathematical problems, who rises against formidable obstacles to assume a leading role in her field. Robinson's pursuit of these problems, and one in particular—Hilbert's tenth problem—brought her face to face with critical developments in 20th century mathematics. The film presents Robinson's life in the context of the 70-year search for a solution to the tenth problem.
Julia Robinson's work hinged on the ideas of key protagonists in the history of mathematics and logic: David Hilbert, Alfred Tarski, Alan Turing, and Kurt Gödel, among others. The film interweaves the personal story of this important figure in American mathematics with the discovery of new ideas that led to the development of computers.