Famous Imperial Mathematician Praised at Wolf Prize Ceremony | Imperial News





Imperial’s Professor Sir Simon Donaldson has been awarded the 2020 Wolf Prize in Mathematics, one of the most prestigious academic honours.

Professor Sir Simon Donaldson, chair of pure mathematics at Imperial, received the Wolf Price in mathematics for his contribution to differential geometry and topology. He shares the $100,000 prize with Professor Yakov Eliashberg from Stanford University.

It is a wonderful thing for me to join this extraordinary list of Wolf Prize winners. Professor Sir Simon Donaldson Mathematics department

The award was presented by Imperial’s President, Professor Alice Gast, at an awards ceremony in June. Speaking at the event, Professor Donaldson said: “I thank the Wolf Foundation for this great honour… The winners of the award are people who have shaped the mathematics of the past 100 years. It is a wonderful thing for me to join this extraordinary list of Wolf Prize winners.

The Wolf Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in the world and – alongside the Fields Medalwhich Professor Donaldson also argues – is considered the closest equivalent of a ‘Nobel prize for Mathematics. The prize is awarded annually in Israel to outstanding scientists and artists from around the world for “achievements in the interests of mankind and friendly relations among peoples”.

Most people experience the world in three dimensions, but Simon gave us a revealing insight into the fourth dimension. Professor Alice Gast President, Imperial College London

Professor Gast said: “This award recognizes Simon’s work as one of the world’s most eminent mathematicians. Most people experience the world in three dimensions, but Simon gave us a revealing insight into the fourth dimension. While a number of us have used math to solve physics problems, Simon applies physics to solve mathematical problems – an approach that ultimately led to impressive advances in both. This distinction is well deserved. »

The Wolf Prize follows Professor Donaldson’s receipt of the Fields Medal in 1986 and the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in 2014. Other winners include Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, Allan Macdonald and Rafi Bistritzer for Physics, Cindy Sherman for art and Caroline Dean for agriculture. Previous Wolf Prize recipients are Steven Hawking and Paul McCartney.

Professor Gast awards a medal to Professor Donaldson

Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Rector (Research and Enterprise) at Imperial, said: “Simon’s exceptional work has transformed his field as well as several aligned disciplines, bringing about a sea change in our understanding of mathematics.

“We are very proud to count him among our community and congratulate him wholeheartedly on this well-deserved honor.”

Unique and original ideas

Professor Donaldson is renowned for his work on the topology of smooth (differentiable) four-dimensional manifolds and Donaldson-Thomas theory. His research includes a unique combination of innovative ideas in global nonlinear analysis, topology, algebraic geometry and theoretical physics.

As a graduate student at the University of Oxford, Professor Donaldson made a discovery that won him international acclaim and stunned the mathematical world. He showed that there are phenomena in 4 dimensions which have no equivalent in any other dimension. This went against the accepted understanding at the time.

Professor Donaldson is renowned for applying physics to solving mathematical problems, a remarkable reversal of the usual interaction of these two subjects. His work led to greater unity between the two subjects, resulting in great progress in both. Many of his theories are now ubiquitous in many branches of modern mathematics and physics.

Professor Donaldson and President Professor Gast with guests at the celebration event

Images: Jo Mieszkowski


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