One Earth, One Life, One Chance...Go Green

The Man Who Declined Fields Medal and the Millennium Prize.

Posted by Vikramsinh at Monday, March 28, 2011

"We could use up two Eternities in learning all that is to be learned about our own world and the thousands of nations that have arisen and flourished and vanished from it. Mathematics alone would occupy me eight million years. " ~Mark Twain (1835- 1910).

Human beings are always intrigued with the idea of Mathematics. There is no such thing in this world which in untouched by mathematics. Sometimes we could fail to understand the nature, the laws of nature are specifically intertwined to balance the entire universe. Each and everything has rationale behind it, and understanding that logic always challenges us.

Here is the man who solved one of the most complex, difficult and intrigued problems in mathematics and also denied its recognition prizes. The man is none other than the Math genius Grigory Perelman, who has made landmark contributions to Riemannian geometry and geometric topology. A reclusive Russian topologist seemed to be playing eccentric mathematician as the saying goes "there is no genius without a touch of madness".

In 2006, He refused to accept the highest honor in mathematics, the Fields Medal, Which is also known as "Nobel Prize of Mathematics" for the prestige it carries, “For his contributions to geometry and his revolutionary insights into the analytical and geometric structure of the Ricci flow". In 2010, He also declined a $1 million prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for resolution of PoincarĂ©’s conjecture, which remained unsolved for more than a 100 years. The hypothesis involving the deep structure of three-dimensional objects.

“I do not think anything that I say can be of the slightest public interest,” he told. “I know that self-promotion happens a lot and if people want to do that, good luck to them, but I do not regard it as a positive thing."
The man is very inaccessible, Why did Perelman turn his back on the world? This question haunted Masha Gessen and to unravel the mystery of Perelman she tried to put together all pieces from all dimensions, in her book “Perfect Rigor”. Without any help from Perelman himself, she charts the mathematician’s rise from quiet super-student to prickly genius, suggesting that the very perfectionism that fueled his work may have been the cause of his alienation. Book gives ample background on his coaches and classmates, who describe him mostly as “a sort of math angel” who never made mistakes. His triumph at the 1982 International Mathematical Olympiad, when he achieved a perfect score and earned a gold medal. She tried to portray the genius including the eccentricities and antisocial traits that would become so pronounced at the pinnacle of his career. In doing so she has written an accessible book about an unreachable man.

Fields Medal
Fields Medal is conceived as top honor a mathematician can receive. The prize is awarded to mathematicians not over 40 years of age at each International Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU), a meeting that takes place every four years. It comes with a monetary award, which in 2006 was $15,000. "Fields Medals" are more properly known by their official name,” International medals for outstanding discoveries in mathematics."

Millennium Prizes
In order to celebrate mathematics in the new millennium, The Clay Mathematics Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts (CMI) established seven Prize Problems. The Prizes wer
e conceived to record some of the most difficult problems with which mathematicians were grappling at the turn of the second millennium. As of March 2011, six of the problems remain unsolved. A correct solution to any of the problems results in a US$1,000,000 prize being awarded by the institute.

James Carlson, President of CMI, said, "resolution of the Poincaré conjecture by Grigoriy Perelman brings to a close the century-long quest for the solution. It is a major advance in the history of mathematics that will long be remembered."

On December 22, 2006, the journal Science honoured Perelman's proof of the Poincaré conjecture as the scientific "Breakthrough of the Year", the first time this had been bestowed in the area of mathematics.

Poincare Conjecture
This is bit mathematical and perceived as difficult to understand. So you can probably see the video explaining the same.

The original conjecture is stated like this:

"Consider a compact 3-dimensional manifold V without boundary. Is it possible that the fundamental group of V could be trivial, even though V is not homeomorphic to the 3-dimensional sphere?"

I found interesting article where writer tried to explain this in simplified way.

The rationale behind declining the prize and fame is sending signals against the politics in Mathematics, a purist would say that no one person deserves to stake a claim on a theorem. That seemed to be what Dr. Perelman, who has said he disapproves of politics in mathematics, was implying.

I still found it hard to believe. The way great people think, Perhaps no one can.