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Abel Prize: Robert P. Langlands wins 2018 award for "completely new way of thinking about mathematics"

Publication Date: 
Tuesday 20th March 2018 - 12:45

 

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded the 2018 Abel Prize to Robert P. Langlands (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) “for his visionary program connecting representation theory to number theory”.  

(press release follows)

Robert P. Langlands has been awarded the Abel Prize for his work dating back to January 1967. He was then a 30-year-old associate professor at Princeton, working during the Christmas break. He wrote a 17-page letter to the great French mathematician André Weil, aged 60, outlining some of his new mathematical insights.

“If you are willing to read it as pure speculation I would appreciate that,” he wrote. “If not – I am sure you have a waste basket handy.”

Fortunately, the letter did not end up in a waste basket. His letter introduced a theory that created a completely new way of thinking about mathematics: it suggested deep links between two areas, number theory and harmonic analysis, which had previously been considered as unrelated.

Robert P. Langlands will receive the Abel Prize for his work from His Majesty King Harald V at an award ceremony in Oslo on 22 May. Langlands’ insights were so radical and so rich that the mechanisms he suggested to bridge these mathematical fields led to a project named the Langlands program. The program has enlisted hundreds of the world’s best mathematicians over the last fifty years. No other project in modern mathematics has as wide a scope, has produced so many deep results, and has so many people working on it. Its depth and breadth have grown and the 1 Langlands program is now frequently described as a grand unified theory of mathematics.

The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Ole M. Sejersted, announced the winner of the 2018 Abel Prize at the Academy in Oslo today, 20 March.

Biography

Robert P. Langlands was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, in 1936. He graduated from the University of British Columbia with an undergraduate degree in 1957 and an MSc in 1958, and from Yale University with a PhD in 1960. He has held faculty positions at Princeton University and Yale University, and is currently a Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has won several awards as recognition of his outstanding contributions to the theory of automorphic forms.

Awards and recognitions

The Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences 
The Nemmers Prize in Mathematics 
The Wolf Prize in Mathematics (jointly with Sir Andrew Wiles) 
The Leroy P. Steele Prize 
The Grande Médaille d’Or of the French Academy of Sciences 
The inaugural National Academy of Sciences Award in Mathematics 
The Common Wealth Award 
The American Mathematical Society’s Cole Prize

Read more about Robert P. Langlands
Academic biography of Robert P. Langlands via the Institute for Advanced Study

University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons