It’s that time of year again

This time a year ago, I had the privilege of attending the announcement of the 2011 Abel Prize, which was awarded to John Milnor. I also had the daunting task of presenting his work to a non-mathematical audience in twenty minutes or so. The same privilege/task has befallen me this year: I leave for Norway tomorrow and the announcement ceremony for the 2012 Abel Prize is on Wednesday at midday Norwegian time (11am GMT). If you are keen to know at the earliest possible opportunity which particular mereological sum of mathematicians has won the prize this year, then you can watch the event streamed live. For instructions, go to the Abel Prize website.

4 Responses to “It’s that time of year again”

  1. plm Says:

    Are they giving the prize to Tarski?

    How is mereology pronounced? “Part theory” may sound better (especially when thinking of set theory).

    By curiosity, why were you chosen to present John Milnor’s work? Can you disclose whether you have an agreement for future years’ Abel prizes?

    • gowers Says:

      Very briefly, the person who does the presentation is asked on an annual basis (so, in particular, nothing has been said about next year or beyond) and is asked before the winner has been chosen. It is considered to be almost an advantage if the person doing the presentation is from a different area, because this is thought to increase the probability that what they say can be understood by the intended audience — which is nonmathematicians. So when I was told that this year’s winner was in the same area as me, it came as a delightful surprise.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I am very very very happy that Abel Prize was given to a great combinatorialist. At least somehow the truth won — one should get prizes not only for reading 10 tons of books and then connecting the branches, but also for actually creating Maths while solving easy-to-state but very beautiful complicated problems. Hooray!

  3. plm Says:

    Thank you and the committee for the talks, it is going really smoothly.

    I was wondering what happens in prize deliberations with regards to considering someone like Grothendieck, who rejects the community. Does anybody mention him for a Abel prize? I guess it is easy to argue he should be ignored.

    For instance what happens and what will happen in Perelman’s case? He will not receive anymore prize?

    What are examples in other sciences? For Nobel prizes, for instance.

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