Tuesday, August 12, 2014
2014 Fields Medals
The 2014 Fields Medals have now been awarded. The Fields Medals are considered the most prestigious award in mathematics, though the Abel Prize is giving the Fields Medal a run for its money. The 2014 Fields Medalists are Artur Avila, Manjul Bhargava, Martin Hairer, and Maryam Mirzakhani. Avila won for his work on dynamical systems and renormalization, so there's a victory for the home team. (Dynamical systems is part of the home team because it's one of my research subjects.) Bhargava won for his work on the geometry of numbers. Hairer won for his work on stochastic partial differential equations, and his joint work with Jonathan Mattingly was included in his prize citation. (Now I need to go give Mattingly crap for this --- just because it's fun to give him crap. I could focus on the "too old" part, though of course just about all of us in mathematics would be happy to get a sidebar mention for something like this!) His work is also in an area that has some relation to some of my interests. Mirzakhani got a Fields Medal for her work on dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces, and she is the first woman ever to win the Fields Medal. (About damn time. Surely there are others who could have been so recognized previously?) Dynamical systems --- including billiard systems, which I like a great deal --- play a significant role in some of her recognized work as well, so dynamical systems in its various guises and places where it makes an impact --- and it is a rather diverse field indeed --- has done rather well this year. (Statistical mechanics, which is also near and dear to my heart and which is also rather diverse, did exceptionally well in the 2010 Fields Medals, and it also reared its head among the 2006 winners.) Update (8/14/14): My department head Sam Howison has written an opinion piece in The Guardian on women in mathematics and Maryam Mirzakhani's Fields Medal.