## 2006 Fields Medalists Announced 132

otisaardvark writes

*"The 2006 Fields medals, awarded every four years and described as the Nobel Prize for Mathematics, have been awarded at the International Congress of Mathematicians. The winners are Grigory Perelman (famous for the ideas underlying the proof of the Poincare and Thurston geometrization conjectures) — who declined the prize, Terence Tao (a child prodigy famous for proving there are arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions of primes, but who works mainly in nonlinear partial differential equations and harmonic analysis), Wendelin Werner (a probabilist working on links with 2D conformal field theories), and Andrei Okounkov (who works on the interface between algebraic geometry and physics)."*Yours Truly wrote to mention that Grigory Perelman actually refused his Fields Medalist, on the grounds that he 'doesn't want to be seen as a figurehead'.
## I-Like-WHAT? (Score:4, Funny)

meth"?## Re:I-Like-WHAT? (Score:5, Funny)

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Even now days, a lot of them run on coffee, gingseng and other 'pick me ups.'

Or so I have been told.

## Wrong Link (Score:3, Informative)

## He refused the Fields Medal? (Score:5, Funny)

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From the last link,

Not a flat refusal, but## Re:He refused the Fields Medal? (Score:4, Informative)

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This is according the the BBC linked article about the refusal and the wikipedia entry for the Fields Medal.

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## Re:He refused the Fields Medal? (Score:4, Informative)

I guess for this guy match (sic) is all that matters and everything else would just be a distraction.Umm, no -- Maths is apparently a painful subject for him. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (emphasis mine):

"On August 22, 2006, Perelman was awarded a Fields Medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid. The Fields Medal is the highest award in mathematics; two to four medals are awarded every four years. Perelman received the award "for his contributions to geometry and his revolutionary insights into the analytical and geometric structure of the Ricci flow"[3].

However, Perelman did not turn up at the ceremony[4], and declined to accept the medal.[5] He has consistently been described by those who know him as shy and unworldly. In the 1990s, he turned down a prestigious prize from the European Mathematical Society.

According to Overbye and other sources, Perelman suffered a bitter split with the Steklov Institute (which failed to re-elect him as member[6]) in the spring of 2003, and according to the testimony of his friends currently finds mathematics a painful topic to talk about, even going so far as to say that they no longer interest him[7]. He is currently jobless and living with his mother in St Petersburg, subsisting on her £30-a-month pension.[8] This reminds some observers of previous examples of "disappearances" of extremely talented mathematicians from the mathematical scene, including Alexander Grothendieck.Perelman is also due to receive a share of a Millennium Prize, should his proof become generally accepted. However, he has not pursued formal publication of his proof in a peer-reviewed mathematics journal, which the rules for this prize require - instead, he published the proof that he had been working on for 10 years on the internet.[9] The Clay Mathematics Institute has explicitly stated that the governing board which awards the prizes may change the formal requirements, in which case Perelman would presumably become eligible to receive a share of the prize. Perelman, however, appears to be uninterested in the money."

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## Re:He refused the Fields Medal? (Score:4, Insightful)

"I hope that one way or another that guy is able to find happiness."Perhaps he has.

Perhaps it doesn't involve large amounts of money and the winning of prizes.

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## Re:He refused the Fields Medal? (Score:5, Insightful)

"only on Slashdot would refusal of the money that comes with a Fields or Millenium award be considered insane," would be a more accurate statement, since Slashdotters are probably some of the few who even know what either is.

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Good job appealing to the elitism of the moderators. Don't spend all that karma in one place.

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Additionally, my karma's beyond uber so I don't consider it the game you apparently do. The reason for this is a string of generally careful choices of words.... There are exceptions, but good karma is achievable for anyone. In that vein, you might consider what the purpose of your comment was beyond expressing an elitism abou

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He might be merely atypical, but when he says that talking about mathematics is painful, and he rejects honest praise (this isn't really a Bob Dylan screw-you-i'm-not-the-voice-of-any-generation type thing), that does sort of indicate that he might be a bit troubled.

I myself have some mental health issues, and taking praise and feeling pride in accomplishments are issues that I have, though not to thi

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## Dumbass. (Score:2)

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Oh. No, not you, I was referring to the guy who rejected the prize in the first place.

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It's odd only because most people want to be famous, make lots of money, be respected, be well known and so onWhat's more odd, to me, is that you think that. Maybe I'm unusual, but about the only thing I actually care about is "[being] respected". The rest I could take or (more likely) leave.

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Medalist, which is an entirely different thing.## Re: (Score:3, Funny)

Don't try for a +5 funny FP with

(slinks away sheepishly...)

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You should really transliterate as "vadka", which is more close to the actual sound of the famous drink.All I hear is a sort of vague sort of buzzing in my ears.

KFG

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## Of course he declined the medal (Score:5, Funny)

As for declining the million bucks though, well, maybe "genius" is too strong a word for this guy. I think a much wiser course of action for him to take would be to accept that prize and donate the money to a worthy charity such as, for example, me.

## Re:Of course he declined the medal (Score:5, Funny)

accidentallyproved the Poincare conjecture.## Re: (Score:2)

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## As is obvious to even the most casual observer... (Score:5, Funny)

... having demonstrated that winning the Fields medal is possible, Perelman thereafter felt no need to bother actually receiving it, as the effort would have been redundant and pointless. Instead, he immediately set about theorizing a higher-order space in which Fields medals exist in multiple dimensions. He is even now working on an analysis of the connectedness of prize sets in the topology of the n-medal space.

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Experiment I: He placed an empty bucket in the first corner of a room, opposite to the second corner which had a tap. Then in a third corner he had some combustible material. His instructions to them were: "I will start a fire in the third corner by burning the stuff. Your task is to put it out." Well, both the physicist and the mathematician did the obvious thing when their turn came -- they too

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## I thought... (Score:2)

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Maybe it's because Peralman is not topologically equivalant to the fields medal that he didn't accept it.

Ben

## There's something to be said... (Score:5, Funny)

It'd look like a publicity stunt if it were anyone other than our very own resident hermit Perelman...he's one of the very few truly quiet geniuses in the world.

TFA also says he's not too interested in the $1 million for the Poincare business...now

thatis insane. Sure, fame is a bit overrated, but money? At least he could buy himself a really, really nice hermit shack in the mountains.## Re: (Score:2)

about a guy who refuses the Fields Medal because he "doesn't want to be seen as a figurehead."Maybe he just didn't feel like meeting Kim Fields to accept the prize. The Facts of Life wasn't a very good show, anyway.

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Sure, fame is a bit overrated, but money? At least he could buy himself a really, really nice hermit shack in the mountains.I was bemoaning just the other day how much money it takes to have a nice little hermit shack in the mountains these days. Seriously.

The legal hassles and concomitant legal fees (not to mention the having to deal with lawyers) pretty much take all the point out of it.

Seriously.

KFG

## Off topic re: hermit shacks (Score:2)

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Surely there is a way to live completely independently of anyone and everything.Sit on the same log in the Adirondack forest for more than three days and you'll be getting a visit from the forest cops if you haven't gotten written permission first. Just to hang out in the woods for awhile you've got to go outlaw and/or keep moving, although the Tupper Lake area is certainly a nice place to do it. I used to play the Long Lake Bluegrass Festival and always looked forward to getting into that neck of the wood

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Wait.. scratch that first part.

(I know, I know.. I shamelessly re-used my own joke in the very same discussion, but funny mods generate no karma anyway).

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## They should make out the medal to... (Score:2, Funny)

## I'm surprised anyone here knows of Alan Smithee (Score:3, Informative)

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## dibs. (Score:2)

Go ahead, check the comment history. I am the first, therefore (omiting some trivial intermediate steps)... the medal is mine.

See you at the top, non-figureheads!

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## Sort of ironic. (Score:3, Informative)

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But at this pace, it'll be a thousand years before mathmatical awards are televised like the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the other entertainment awards. Although they did do it on Futurama...

## Re:Sort of ironic. (Score:4, Insightful)

There is a very simple reason for this - a very large number of people in the world have seen many of the movies nominated for an Oscar, several of the TV shows nominated for Emmys, and have often heard much of the music nominated for Grammys. That is, there is a large viewing public with a vested interest in the results all hoping that "their" pick will win. On the other hand the number of people who have read work by those nominated for Field's medals is rather smaller. Consider, for example, the Nobel prizes where the most widely publicised (except for occasional science winners who made sufficiently significant breakthroughs that they were published widely in the popular press prior to winning) are the literature and peace prizes; that is, those prizes with whom the broadest range of the public can expect to be familiar with potential nominees.

I agree that it would be nice if more people took an interest in, say, the Nobel prizes in the sciences and Fields medals, but that would involve a much broader range of people taking an interest in the cutting edge of science and mathematics: a worthy goal, but a somewhat unlikely one. The cutting edge tends to be cutting because it takes a lot of work to get there. Awards ceremonies for cutting edge cinema tend to be as generally ignored as awards for cutting edge math (the only reason Cannes, for example, has gained any significant coverage is the degree to which it has mainstreamed itself). Perhaps it would be more productive to consider awards in math and science for people who do an excellent job of popularising or explaining existing material - you know, the sort of awards that Feynman would have regularly swept in physics, and would go to people like Ian Stewart in mathematics. Certainly there is an available niche for it, and more publicity for people who help to bring science and mathematics more into mainstream discourse could hardly be a bad thing.

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Such prizes already exist (though are not well known outside the mathematical/scientific community). Most famous is probably the Kalinga prize [unesco.org]. Other examples include the Michael Faraday medal [royalsoc.ac.uk], the Peano prize, and at a undergraduate level the AMS Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition [ams.org]. There are almost certainly many others I don't know.

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By refusing the award, Grigory Perelman is actually turning himself into an even more notable figure than if he'd just accept it quietly.It is said that Diogenes once walked into Plato's home and starting stamping around on his carpets, yelling:

"I trample on the pride of Plato."

Plato is said to have looked at him and responded:

"Yes, with a pride of your own."

KFG

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"

Why do you have to be so f*cking crazy Perelman?!"## Re: (Score:2)

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## International Congress of Mathematicians (Score:5, Funny)

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I had a pretty hot abstract algebra prof. once.

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better gender-integratedWell, what did you expect, once they developed calculus?

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## Re:International Congress of Mathematicians (Score:4, Informative)

## I'd refuse the Fields medal, too... (Score:3, Funny)

## Tao a child prodigy? (Score:3, Funny)

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## Why I got rejected when I submit the same story? (Score:1)

## Wikipedia entry for Terence (Score:5, Informative)

ICM gold before age 13, SAT math score of 760 at age 8, seriously, what the hell.

I wonder if he ever appeared for the Putname exams.

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I went to Terrence's website on Standford and looked over his classes and homework assignments and I didn't understand ANYTHING. I guess that's what you get for taking a leet professor in a leet college.

One interesting note tho, he did say you will pass his class if you just show up, but your letter grade will depend on your homework, I wondering if that's how it works in a ultra high level class like that

## Re:Wikipedia entry for Terence (Score:5, Funny)

Given that Terence's name is not Terrence, that Stanford is not spelled Standford, and that he is a professor at UCLA, not Stanford, is it surprising that you didn't undertand ANYTHING?

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## Re:Wikipedia entry for Terence (Score:5, Interesting)

If you don't have any background in formal mathematics, I doubt you'd understand the homework assignments for upper-level mathematics coursework at a ho-hum state school. Mathematics is as much learning a language as it is learning a science, so you're no more dumb for not understanding his assignments than you are for not understanding an assignment in a class on Sanskrit.

That said, Undergraduate mathematics (algebra, analysis, some degree of differential equations, topology, a handful of other topics of interest) isn't that different from school to school. Even at "leet" (ugh) schools, mathematics is a common major for many students who do not intend to become mathematicians. Law schools like it, a lot of science types take it as a second major, and for indecisive students it's a bit more job friendly than History (though probably less useful, you're more likely to have to write at a job than prove Stoke's theorem). So while the coursework may be abstract, there's sort of a ceiling on the difficulty of major requirements, even at top schools, there's a limit to how much headache students with non-academic ambitions are going to want to endure. His grad students, on the other hand, are, I'm sure, worked to the bone.

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I had Terence Tao as a math teacher for my upper-division linear algebra class, Math 115A. It was, in retrospect, the best class I ever took. As a frosh CS major, I did poorly in my first two lower-division math classes at UCLA, but the two after that my sophomore year, I did well. I convinced myself that I was a naive freshman when I did poorly, and that I was more studious now. I then decided that I would add a math minor to my CS major, which required taking five addi

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## Ze Frank says it best (Score:3, Interesting)

"Known as the Nobel Prize of Mathematics, the prestigious Fields Medal was awarded to four people under the age of forty that you wouldn't want to get trapped on an elevator with...."He then goes on to disprove some of Grigory Perelman's more famous conjectures using a donut.

## Perelman is not the first .... (Score:4, Interesting)

John Paul Sartre also turned down a Nobel Prize because he did not want himself associated with institutions or prizes.

I wonder if in the future an individual will turn down one of these major prizes on the grounds that the bulk of his/her knowledge was discovered, developed, and perpetuated by the work of people in society as a whole.

I can see this argument being made in Mathematics, where any serious and insightful contribution is necessarily based on dozens, if not hundreds, of years of complex and insightful mathematical discoveries. During my mathematical education I truly felt like I was a history class and only the insane math olympiad types ever managed to catch up with the present. (This is true except for fluid dynamics and combinatorics -- those fields are still wide open because fluid dynamics is extraordinarily hard and combinatorics is fairly new as a serious mathematical discipline.)

I personally still think that some people deserve special recognition for advancing the whole field as a whole -- I believe the hypothetical argument above is not very compelling.

Perelman, Wiles, and most other serious mathematicians like to be left alone. I'm not sure that Perelman will like it if NPR is calling him for comment about the latest mathematical discovery. I think his argument against becoming a figurehead is fairly sound; it is good that the Clay institute and the Fields people are not taking his refusals as a sign of disrespect.

Moreover, the Clay Institute intends to use the $1m dollars to promote Mathematics education in Russia. I think all parties are winners here.

## Re:Perelman is not the first .... (Score:5, Interesting)

This is hardly the case. Most mathematicians (yes, even "serious" ones) realize that mathematics is not exclusively writing down a series of logical statements which prove difficult theorems. The lifeforce of mathematics, and thus the mathematician, is doing so and then *communicating* those results to their fellow mathematicians, and indeed to the rest of the world. I suspect that most (but obviously not all) mathematicians would be giddy with delight at so many people taking interest in their field of expertise (their work in particular), and the opportunity to talk about it at length. Further, for reasons not quite so abstract, mathematicians and mathematics departments rely on funding, so it behooves mathematicians to self-aggrandize -- let people know how big of a deal this is, why it was so important, and why people should keep paying them to keep doing it.

> Moreover, the Clay Institute intends to use the $1m dollars to promote Mathematics education in Russia. I think all parties are winners here.

I'm not sure where this came from, but this is almost certainly not the case. The Clay Institute has yet to officially decide how the prize will be distributed among mathematician(s) (if at all), let alone a contingency plan for what to do if one of the recipients declines the award.

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>This is hardly the case. Most mathematicians (yes, even "serious" >ones) realize that mathematics is not exclusively writing down a >series of logical statements which prove difficult theorems.

You're certainly correct about this. But I'm talking about non-mathematicians. The mathematicians I've met at MIT do talk frequently and excitedly to other mathematicians and talented students, but they don't have a lot of

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Also there should be two things that should be obvious from Perelman's behavior. One he is not very good at explaining his results. He might suffer from a mild form of dyslexia where it is extraordinarily difficult to explain one's ideas.

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## by refusing the price he made it more famous (Score:3, Insightful)

(<intended pun>probably</intended pun> meaning measure theory), representation theory and algebraic geometry. This is about as cool as cool can get in math.

## Email for pdf of New Yorker (Score:1)

nld2thx at yahoo dot com

As of this morning, the NYer hadn't posted the article online, so it is either this or go buy the hard copy...uggggh

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## Did they find him yet? (Score:2, Interesting)

Fair enough I say.

## Story has it all wrong (Score:2)

## Stephen Colbert was robbed (Score:2)

## I am pretty sure he (Score:1)

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## Re:Maybe he just doesn't want the prize? (Score:4, Interesting)

I received a couple of minor academic awards as a student, and I really didn't care about them. But I didn't make a stink about it and refuse them. It just seems like common sense and common decency to accept the attempted kindness.

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Common sense & decency people will not appreciate that.

He should have hired a better PR consultant. Someone like you.