Helsinki. Four mathematicians were awarded the Fields Medal yesterday in Helsinki, including the Ukrainian Maryna Viazovska, the second woman to receive the prestigious award since its creation in 1936.
The other three winners of this distinction, considered the equivalent of a “Nobel in mathematics”, are the Frenchman Hugo Duminil-Copin, the British James Maynard and the American-South Korean June Huh.
The gold medal, which is awarded every four years accompanied by a check for just over $11,500, rewards “exceptional findings” by researchers under 40 years of age.
The announcement was made at a ceremony held in the Finnish capital, Helsinki, during the International Congress of Mathematicians.
The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place in Saint Petersburg, but was moved to Helsinki due to the Russian incursion into Ukraine.
“The brutal war that Russia continues to wage against Ukraine left no alternative,” lamented the president of the International Mathematical Union, Carlos Kenig.
Viazovska was born in 1984 in Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. She is a professor at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne, Switzerland, since 2017.
With the Russian incursion into Ukraine in February “my life changed forever,” Viazovska said.
“When the war started, I couldn’t think about anything else, including math,” he added. But teaching has given him some relief. “In front of a class I have to forget everything else, because I have to be very concentrated. This made me forget the fear and pain inside me,” she recounted.
He was awarded the prize for solving a centuries-old version of a geometric problem, in which he demonstrated the densest packing of identical spheres in eight dimensions.
The “sphere packing problem” dates back to the 16th century, when the question of how cannonballs should be stacked to get the densest possible solution was raised. The jury made the decision before the war broke out.
The first woman to receive the Fields Medal was Maryam Mirzakhani in 2014, an Iranian mathematician who died three years later after a battle with cancer.
The other winners were the French mathematician Hugo Duminil-Copin, from the University of Geneva; the Korean-American June Huh, from Princeton, and the British James Maynard, from the University of Oxford.
The works of the Frenchman Duminil-Copin, 36, focus on the mathematical branch of statistical physics. He is a professor at the Institute for Advanced Scientific Studies, near Paris, and the University of Geneva.
He was awarded for having solved “long-standing problems in the probabilistic theory of phase transitions”, which, according to the jury, has opened several new lines of research.
“Congratulations! This award shows the vitality and excellence of our French school of mathematics,” President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.
James Maynard, 35, is a professor at Oxford University in the UK. He received the medal “for (his) contributions of his to the analytic theory of numbers, which have allowed important advances in the understanding of the structure of the prime numbers and in the Diophantine approach”.
June Huh, 39, a professor at Princeton University in the United States, received the award for “transforming” the field of geometric combinatorics, “using methods from Hodge’s theory, tropical geometry and singularity theory ”, the jury pointed out.
Tropical geometry is named after the pioneer of the discipline, the Brazilian computer scientist Imre Simon, who died in 2009.
The Fields Medal is awarded every four years to mathematicians under the age of 40. The winners are normally announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians, which was to be held in Russia, but was moved to Helsinki.
#Ukrainian #among #laureates #Nobel #Mathematics