The Hungarian-American mathematician Endre Szemerédi received the 2012 Abel Prize - the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematics - from His Majesty King Harald at the award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, 22 May. The Minister of Education and Research, Kristin Halvorsen, the President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters Nils Chr. Stenseth and Chair of the Abel Committee Ragni Piene gave speeches at the ceremony.
After being selected by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for the top award in March, Szemerédi received the prize and associated cash award of 6 million Norwegian kroner (EUR 800,000) from the hands of Norwegian King Harold V. Szemerédi, a 71-year-old member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, of the US National Academy of Sciences and an affiliate of the department of computer science at Rutgers University in the US, said in his acceptance speech that “a beautiful thing about mathematics is that the effort and interaction of many can reach unimaginable heights”.
“I had never thought that an honour such as the Abel Prize could be given to me,” he said. It “could never have happened were it not for the fundamental work of many older and young mathematicians who might have been influenced by some of my results and methods”.
President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters Professor Nils Chr. Stenteth said the prize recognises “mathematicians who have made a fundamental contribution to the development of the field of mathematics”, but also aims to enhance the status of mathematics in society and motivate young people to become involved in mathematical research.
Szemerédi won for his “fundamental contribution to discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science, and in recognition of the profound and lasting impact of these contributions on additive number theory and ergodic theory”.
Professor Ragni Piene, chair of the Abel Committee, said Szemerédi’s “influential contributions to both discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science” exemplified the strong Hungarian problem-solving tradition.
Szemerédi, who has been described by colleagues as having “an irregular mind, wired differently than for most mathematicians”, was a medical student and worked in a factory before eventually moving to mathematics, where he was mentored by influential mathematicians including Paul Turán and Paul Erdős.
Source: www.abelprize.no; Budapest Times
Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 09:06