Korean-American mathematician awarded Fields Medal – AsAmNews

A Korean American mathematician from Princeton University has been awarded the 2022 Fields Medal.

June Huh, 40, received the medal for her work in combinatorics, Princeton University News reports. Every four years, the International Mathematical Union (IMU) awards medals to researchers based on the influence of their existing work and the promise of their future work.

The medal was presented to Huh and three other early career researchers at an awards ceremony in Helsinki, Finland.

Huh was born in California and raised in South Korea. When he was in high school, he dreamed of becoming a poet.

“I was pretty good in most subjects except math,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. “Mathematics was particularly poor, on average, meaning on some tests I did reasonably well. But other tests I almost failed.

Things changed when he attended Seoul National University, where he studied physics and astronomy. He planned to become a science journalist. During his last year of university, he rediscovered mathematics during a course in algebraic geometry given by Dr. Heisuke Hironaka.

According The New York Times, Huh went on to pursue a master’s degree in mathematics with Hironaka. Eventually, he applied to doctoral programs in the United States. He was rejected from every program he applied to except the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

At Illinois, Huh began her work in combinatorics, a field of study that determines how many ways things can be mixed.

Huh is now a professor at Princeton University. According to the university’s website, the IMU awarded him the Fields Medal for his work proving the Rota conjecture in 2015 by applying Hodge’s theory. He and his collaborators also “proposed a general framework that treats discrete objects from a geometric point of view”.

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