Magazine article Science News

Four Awarded Fields Medals for Mathematics

Magazine article Science News

Four Awarded Fields Medals for Mathematics

Article excerpt

From Paris to Princeton, for research subjects ranging from harmonic analysis to complex dynamics, four mathematicians have won the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics.

First presented in 1936 at the International Congress of Mathematics (ICM), the Fields Medal, which carries no remuneration, is awarded every 4 years to mathematicians age 40 and younger whose work is "of a seminal nature, pointing the way to current and future progress in mathematics research."

The recipients -- announced last week at ICM's quadrennial conference, held this year in Zurich--are Jean Bourgain of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, N.J.; Pierre-Louis Lions of the University of Paris-Dauphine; Jean-Christophe Yoccoz of the University of Paris-Sud; and Efim Isaakovich Zelmanov, now at the University of Chicago while on leave from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Bourgain, 40, a classical mathematician, conducts research in number theory, combinatorics, and probability. But his primary work in harmonic analysis, one of the oldest and most fundamental tools of modern mathematics -- and wavelets in particular--suggests new and far-reaching applications in oil exploration, medicine, and computing.

According to Norman McNatt of IAS, Bourgain's "problem-solving capacity is extraordinary.... He's published 184 papers, not one of them trivial.... He's left a mark of some significance."

Lions, 37, specializes in nonlinear partial differential equations. …

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