Fields Medals awarded

The 2010 meeting of the International Mathematical Union is being held in Hyderabad, India. At this meeting, Ingrid Daubechies (of wavelet fame) was appointed President, the first woman ever afforded than honor. Also at this meeting the Fields Medal, long regarded as the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize, was awarded to four mathematicians:

  1. Elon Lindenstrauss, of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, received the award for “far-reaching advances in ergodic theory,” namely the study of random processes and the statistical behavior of dynamical systems. Lindenstrauss has achieved progress in what is known as the Littlewood conjecture.
  2. Ngô Bo Châu, of Université Paris-Sud in Orsay, France, received the award for a “brilliant proof” of a long-standing conjecture in number theory known as the “Fundamental Lemma.” This lemma is a central feature of a unifying vision of mathematics, originally sketched by Robert Langlands, now at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, that ties together numerous aspects of modern mathematics. With this breakthrough, further advances in the “Langland Program” now appear possible.
  3. Stanislav Smirnov, of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, received the award for work in statistical physics, in particular in the lattice models now used as approximations to continuous space. This schemes have assumed that the scaling limits, as these grids become finer and finer, don’t propagate artifacts of the original lattice. Smirnov has affirmed this principle for triangular lattices.
  4. Cedric Villani, of the Henri Poincaré Institute in Paris, received the award for work in mathematical physics, in particular for work in the area of statistical mechanics and entropy. Villani’s work concluded that a highly organized system reaches its equilibrium state at different speeds. Villani also discovered surprising connections between the theory of gas diffusion and problems in the economics of transportation.

Several other awards were also announced at the ICM meeting:

  1. The Nevanlinna Prize was given the Daniel Spielman of Yale University for work in linear programming and error-correcting codes. For example, Spielman and Shang-Hua Teng of Boston University have developed a theory that explains why the simplex method works so well on practical linear programming problems.
  2. The Gauss Prize was given to Yves Meyer of the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan in France. Meyer was instrumental in developing the theory of wavelets.
  3. The first Chern Medal was given to Louis Nirenberg of New York university, for his work in the modern theory of partial differential equations.

Further details are available in a very nice article by Barry Cipra on the Science Now website: Online article.

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