India Born Akshaya Venkatesh won the Fields Medals 2018

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On August 1, at a ravishing ceremony held at the opening of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in Rio de Janeiro, four researchers were awarded the highest honor in mathematics that is Fields Medal.

Fields Medal, officially it is the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics, an award granted to between two and four mathematicians for outstanding or influential research.

The Fields Medal is often recognized as the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize. But by tradition, it is gratified only every four years and is given to the mathematicians under the age of 40, rather than to more senior scholars.

This year’s winners have just been declared, and they are algebraic geometer Caucher Birkar, PDE specialist Alessio Figalli, arithmetic algebraic geometer Peter Scholze, and number theorist Akshay Venkatesh.

Fields Medal 2018About the winners of the Fields Medals 2018

Caucher Birkar, a member of Cambridge’s Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics, won the award for his outstanding work on categorizing different kinds of polynomial equations.

He proved that the infinite variety of such equations can be split into a finite number of classifications, a major breakthrough in the field of birational geometry, especially his development of the minimal model program (MMP) and his proof of boundedness of Fano varieties.

Alessio Figalli was awarded a Fields Medal for his work in calculating variations and partial differential equations. His results have a keen association for meteorology and the study of crystalline structure.

His brilliance in this field has been acknowledged, and this was not his first time on the stage of the ICM.

He spoke in 2014 on quantitative stability results without knowing the fact that he would come again to the ICM stage four years later for receiving of the Fields Medal. 

Akshay Venkatesh the 36-year-old Stanford University professor, set to join the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Princeton, is the second person of Indian origin (and the second Australian) was awarded a Fields Medal for his superlative contributions to number theory and related topics, such as Theory of Representation, Ergodic Theory, and Automorphic Forms.

The IMU’s citation stated that he has “solved many longstanding problems by combining methods from seemingly unrelated areas, presented novel viewpoints on classical problems, and produced strikingly far-reaching conjectures.”

Peter Scholze is awarded a Fields Medal for his contributions to the field of arithmetic algebraic geometry. At age 30, he is one of the youngest mathematicians to win this prestigious prize.

He was born in Dresden, Germany and raised in Berlin; Scholze has gone up quickly in the mathematics world. As a graduate student at the University of Bonn, he gained eminence for simplifying a complex mathematical proof in number theory from 288 to 37 pages. Shortly after completion of his Ph.D. in 2012, he became a full professor in Bonn at the age of 24 and the youngest in Germany to be in such a position.

The history behind Fields Medals

The Fields Medal was first put forward at the 1924 International Congress of Mathematicians in Toronto, but it took until 1932 for the award to be established and funded.

Officially, the award was meant to be called the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics, free from any recognition of John Charles Fields himself.

A resolution was adopted stating that at each upcoming conference, two gold medals should be awarded to endorse outstanding mathematical achievement.

But, by the time the medal was first awarded in 1936, Fields had demised, and it had become known by the wider public as the Fields Medal.

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Pragyan Pattnaik
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