OTTAWA — Four mathematicians were recognized for mathematical excellence on August 13 at the opening ceremony of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), where they were each presented with the prestigious Fields Medal.
Artur Avila (Paris and Rio de Janeiro), Manjul Bhargava (Princeton), Martin Hairer (Warwick) and Maryam Mirzakhani (Stanford) received their medals in Seoul, Korea, on the first day of the ICM, which runs from August 13-24, 2014. The ICM is the largest congress of the mathematics community and is held once every four years under the auspice of the International Mathematical Union (IMU).
The Fields Medals are awarded every four years at the opening ceremony of the ICM and are considered by many to be the mathematical equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Up to four recipients can be named every four years and the medals are traditionally awarded to mathematicians under the age of 40. The medals are named after John Charles Fields, who was born in Hamilton, Ontario and spent the majority of his career as a professor in Toronto.
“The mathematical community and the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) are very proud of the Canadian participation in the 2014 International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul,” said CMS President, Lia Bronsard. “Ten Canadian professors have been invited as speakers – one of them as a plenary lecturer – which is a great accomplishment. Moreover, one of the four Fields medalists, Manjul Bhargava (Princeton), was born in Hamilton, Ontario. The entire mathematical community is also thrilled that for the first time this year, a woman, Maryam Mirzakhani (Stanford), was awarded the Fields Medal.”
“The selection of prize winners in this round of the Fields Medals establishes many firsts,” said Walter Craig, Director of the Fields Institute. “Dr. Mirzakhani is the first woman and the first Iranian recipient, Artur Avila is the first Brazilian Fields Medalist, and Dr. Hairer is the first Austrian awardee.”
Craig noted that this year’s medal recipients have strong connections to the Canadian mathematical community. In particular, Dr. Bhargava is a Canadian/American who was born in Hamilton, Ontario and maintains dual citizenship. He also noted that two of the medalists, Avila and Mirzakhani) met in Toronto, Ontario, in 1995 where they participated in the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Here they also met Subhash Khot, the winner of the Nevanlinna Prize. Khot himself recalls sitting next to Mirzakhani as she wrote a perfect IMO paper.
Another Canadian connection Craig noted is that Dr. Avila, who spent the winter semester of 2011 at the University of Toronto as the Dean's Distinguished Visitor, taught a graduate course on the Ergodic and Spectral Theory of Quasiperiodic Cocycles as part of the Fields Institute program on Dynamics and Transport in Disordered Systems. In his course, Avila lectured on some of his Fields Medal winning work to the graduate students and the program participants at the Fields Institute.
As a result of being awarded the Fields Medals, the new medalist recipients will be invited, one per year, to Toronto to be honoured in a sequence of Fields Medal Symposia at the Fields Institute. The Symposia are deeply scientific events that take place over a week in the autumn, which feature lectures by the medalist and by other top mathematicians working in the same area of research. As well, at each Symposium there is a large and animated evening public opening to which the general public, along with the academic community as well as luminaries and prominent government officials participate. There are in addition activities during the Symposium week for students and young people, whose purpose is to educate and to inspire the next generation of Canadian mathematicians.
For more information on the Fields Medals, see:
Dr. Lia Bronsard
Canadian Mathematical Society
905-525-9140, ext. 23418
Communications and Special Projects Officer
Canadian Mathematical Society
(613) 722-2662 ext. 728
The CMS is the national mathematics organization whose goal is to promote the advancement, discovery, learning, and application of mathematics. The Society's activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics including: scientific meetings, research publications, and the promotion of excellence in mathematics education at all levels. The CMS annually sponsors mathematics awards and prizes that recognize outstanding achievements.