Seven Fields Medalists

The 7 Fields Medalists are:

2014 – Maryam Mirzakhani (1977-2017) – 1st lady Fields medalist

2010 – Cédric Villani (1973- )

2006 – Grigori Perelman (1966- ) – 1st declined the award

1998 – Andrew Wiles (1953- ) [silver plaque] – Fermat’s Last Theorem

1990 – Edward Witten (1951- ) – Physicist won Fields medal

1982 – Alain Connes (1947- ) – Quantum Theory

1966 – Alexander Grothendieck (1928-2014) – Hermit mathematician


New “Nobel” Prizes

Recent years, there are more newly created “Nobel” Prizes with much bigger prize amounts than the Nobel prize:

Donated by:
Yuri Milner (Russian Internet Billionaire)
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook Founder)
Sergey Brin (Google co-founder)
US$ 3 million
Award Frequency: Every year
Status: 9 scientists had been awarded


Donated by Yuri Milner
US$ 3 million

TANG PRIZE 唐奨 (2013)
Donated by Samual Yin 尹衍梁 (Taiwan Property Tycoon) for Asian countries.
US$ 1.675 million
Frequency: Every 2 years

US$ 1.5 million

US$ 1.2 million

SHAW PRIZE 邵逸夫奨 (2004)
Donated by Run Run Shaw (Hong Kong Movie Producer Billionaire)
US$ 1 million

US$ 250,000

Donated by Len Blavatnik (Billionaire Investor)
US$ 250,000

US$ 14,700

Pawned Fields Medal

1936 Lars Valerian Ahlfors (Harvard University)

The first person in history to receive a Fields medal was a Finnish Ahlfors in 1936. At that time Finland was at war with England, no person could bring  more than 10 crowns out of Finland. Ahlfors was accepting a job offer from Harvard, so he pawned his Fields Medal for ticket to leave Finland, later got the medal back from the pawn shop.

Lars Valerian Ahlfors

Lars Valerian Ahlfors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why French excel in math ?

Mathematics and quantitative finance, France

Since 1990, there have been 22 winners of the Fields Medal, widely regarded as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. Thirteen came from just two countries, Russia and France. Russia has more winners (seven), but more than twice the population, so the honours go to France, with six winners.

Cédric Villani, the 2010 Fields Medallist, cited national character. “Maths is an abstract way of looking at the world, which fits well with the French mentality. We apply algebra to everything.” Elite institutions help too. France’s brightest school leavers progress to the grandes écoles, which traditionally educate top scientists, administrators and presidents. For maths, you want Monsieur Villani’s alma mater, the École Normale Supérieure (ENS). All 10 French Fields Medallists learnt there. At ENS, no teacher can stay longer than 10 years. Instead of ancient dons, students get tutors at the forefront of mathematics. Many try, but only 40 mathematicians a year enter the ENS.

The French have applied their maths genius to the money markets too. The Financial Times business schools rankings suggest France leads the world in producing “financial engineering” experts, with six institutions in the top 10 masters courses in finance. France can thus claim to dominate quantitative finance, the highly mathematical specialism involved in about half of all financial trades.

They should thank Michel Crouhy. In 1986, at the École des Hautes Études Commerciales (EHESS) in Paris, he devised the world’s first masters course in financial engineering. “The business school students didn’t have good enough maths, so I said ‘Let’s take only maths graduates, engineers. I won’t have to spend forever explaining the equations.’ It worked; the EHESS still offers the world’s best finance masters course, according to the Financial Times.

“Americans told me they wanted to start a course like ours but they weren’t allowed,” says Crouhy. “Because US MBA programmes were so strong, the universities worried a finance masters would compete with their MBA and destroy the MBA’s franchise.” America’s hesitation seems to have cost them.

“Turn-off” School Math

“…There’s a long history of high caliber mathematicians finding their experiences with school mathematics alienating or irrelevant. “
Read here:

In Récoltes et Semailles Fields Medalist Alexander Grothendieck describes an experience of the type that Alain Connes mentions:

I can still recall the first “mathematics essay” (math test, or Composition Mathématique) , and that the teacher gave it a bad mark. It was to be a proof of “three cases in which triangles were congruent.” My proof wasn’t the official one in the textbook he followed religiously. All the same, I already knew that my proof was neither more nor less convincing than the one in the book, and that it was in accord with the traditional spirit of “gliding this figure over that one.” It was self-evident that this man was unable or unwilling to think for himself in judging the worth of a train of reasoning. He needed to lean on some authority, that of a book which he held in his hand. It must have made quite an impression on me that I can now recall it so clearly.