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August 22, 2006 5:13 AM   Subscribe

Grigory Perelman becomes first to reject Fields Medal: "I do not think anything that I say can be of the slightest public interest. I have published all my calculations. This is what I can offer the public." Perelman was to be awarded the medal due to his solution of the Poincaré Conjecture. More on the other winners. Via.
posted by Captaintripps (31 comments total)

 
A technical point: even though he declined to accept it, Perelman was still awarded the Medal.

Photos of the ceremony, for those with a soft spot for poorly lit, blurry mathematical awards ceremonies.
posted by gleuschk at 5:40 AM on August 22, 2006


Also, the ICM Press Releases page has lots and lots of information about Perelman as well as the three people who actually showed up to accept their prizes.
posted by gleuschk at 5:46 AM on August 22, 2006


I rejected the Fields Medal four years ago. The critical difference is that no one tried to offer it to me.
posted by Plutor at 5:50 AM on August 22, 2006


gleuschk: The ICM press releases page is my third link.
posted by Captaintripps at 5:55 AM on August 22, 2006


Well if Perelman doesn't want it I'll take it.
posted by bap98189 at 6:02 AM on August 22, 2006


The award's gone downhill ever since that guy in Good Will Hunting got it anyways...
posted by inigo2 at 6:11 AM on August 22, 2006


I was listening about this on NPR this morning. One of the guys talking said there were probably about 20 people in the world that could fully appreciate this guys work.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 6:21 AM on August 22, 2006


Interestingly, the IMU did a good job this year keeping the secrets secret -- everyone expected Tao and (once the proof started to look settled) Perelman, but I didn't hear a peep about the other two prizes.
posted by escabeche at 6:23 AM on August 22, 2006


So, I guess he's not missing anymore.
posted by smackfu at 6:33 AM on August 22, 2006


Along with those 20 people, I'd like to express my full appreciation for this guy's work as well.

Thanks, Grigori.
posted by horsewithnoname at 6:35 AM on August 22, 2006


Well, as one of the 20, I salute him.

*cough*
posted by mediareport at 6:47 AM on August 22, 2006


"As well as a gold medal with the winner's name inscribed on the rim, the prize comes with about Cdn$15,000 (US$13,300)."

If someone here doesn't want a sizeable amount of free money please consider accepting it and giving it to me. TIA!
posted by davy at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2006


Perfectly natural that he wants to avoid the throngs of screaming girls, endless requests for product endorsements, parties in the rich Cannes drug scene, fending off paparazzi, all the accoutrements of the lifestyle of a Fields Medal winner.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:35 AM on August 22, 2006 [2 favorites]


Наилучшим образом, я получил ее номер! Как делают вы любят они яблоки?
posted by jimmythefish at 7:53 AM on August 22, 2006


Right you are, Captaintripps, sorry. To make up for it, here's a link to streaming video of the presentations.
posted by gleuschk at 8:20 AM on August 22, 2006


I got about three sentences into that second link when my eyes started bleeding. You guys could've warned me or something...
posted by Thorzdad at 8:58 AM on August 22, 2006


For various more down-to-earth descriptions of the Poincare conjecture, see Christina Sormani's Poincare page and the links therefrom. Also (I think this falls within self-link guidelines) a new and an old article I wrote for Slate about Perelman and Poincare. Just so this isn't all about Perelman, here is a short paper with some pretty pictures by Okounkov's collaborator Richard Kenyon which explains something about dimers, the subject of their joint work.
posted by escabeche at 9:14 AM on August 22, 2006


escabeche, great article. One thing I'm curious about: have mathematicians made statements like: "if the conjecture is true, the following things are also true?" or "the following areas are open to study?"
posted by lbergstr at 11:01 AM on August 22, 2006


lbergstr: all the time, on both questions.

For instance 1, 2.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:07 AM on August 22, 2006


lbergstr, were you asking specifically about Poincare or Thurston geometrization conjecture? (The latter is the general theorem proved by Perelman which implies Poincare.) In that case, sure -- I'm not a topologist so don't have the best examples at my fingertips, but a brief search of recent abstracts yields

"Assuming the Thurston geometrization conjecture, the author shows that a compact 3-dimensional manifold whose fundamental group is polycyclic admits an analytic Riemannian metric whose geodesic flow is integrable and whose singular set is a tame polyhedron of dimension 3. "

and

"The main theorem of this paper is that fundamental groups of orientable 3-manifolds that satisfy the conclusion of Thurston's geometrization conjecture have solvable conjugacy problem."

So now the conclusions of both papers are known to be true without any caveats.
posted by escabeche at 11:50 AM on August 22, 2006


The mathematician is quoted as saying: "I do not think anything that I say can be of the slightest public interest. I have published all my calculations. This is what I can offer the public."
This story is fascinating when you juxtapose it with today's New York Times article about the psychological motives for pursuing fame.
posted by cribcage at 11:56 AM on August 22, 2006


Heroic obscurity. It's strangely reassuring.
posted by NinjaTadpole at 12:33 PM on August 22, 2006


escabeche - thanks, just what I was looking for. (and obviously - insofar as anything in a field I understand not at all is obvious - the Thurston conjecture opens more doors, so I should have asked about that.)

sonofsamian - sorry, should have been more clear. I meant statements that talked specifically about new possibilities that proving the Thurston conjecture would open up.
posted by lbergstr at 1:11 PM on August 22, 2006


The award's gone downhill ever since that guy in Good Will Hunting got it anyways...

The original script depicted a math professor getting a Nobel Prize in mathematics. Affleck and Damon had to get lots of consultation from math profs in order to avoid major gaffes like that.
posted by jonp72 at 1:47 PM on August 22, 2006


Perhaps they could have tried harder and not called a simple graph-theoretic problem a fourier system.
posted by vernondalhart at 4:03 PM on August 22, 2006


a compact 3-dimensional manifold whose fundamental group is polycyclic admits an analytic Riemannian metric whose geodesic flow is integrable and whose singular set is a tame polyhedron of dimension 3.

Well, I'm glad that's settled - now maybe I can get some sleep.
posted by Sparx at 5:37 PM on August 22, 2006


What is that you're trying to say, jimmythefish? How make you love they apples? Come again?
posted by c13 at 5:42 PM on August 22, 2006


hmmmm, i'm gonna have to pick up this week's new yorker :P + george saunders!
posted by kliuless at 6:31 PM on August 22, 2006


The article in this week's new yorker isn't that enlightening as far as the math goes. escabeche's excellent Slate article gives most of the technical details a layperson would care to know (really loved the article, btw, the 2 cultures link was great). The New Yorker article mostly gives a view of the current politics of the mathematical community that Grigory is attempting to stay out of. Ineresting article, but not as much math as I would've liked.
posted by ch1x0r at 8:44 PM on August 22, 2006


Actually, for those interested in the politics surrounding credit for the solution of Poincare -- and they are pretty interesting -- a good inside-baseball view can be gotten from Allyn Jackson's article in the Notices of the American Math Society. Very carefully written so as not to offend anyone, but very thorough.
posted by escabeche at 10:34 PM on August 22, 2006


here's that new yorker article :P + kottke summary!
[for a popular treatment w/ technical details (w/o math :) i like the shapes of space - a sciam article by graham p. collins]

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 12:50 AM on August 25, 2006


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