French mathematician Gromov wins Abel prize

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Soviet-born mathematician Mikhail Gromov won EUR 682,000 for his revolutionary contributions to geometry.

NEW YORK – Soviet-born mathematician Mikhail Gromov on Thursday won Norway's prestigious, six million kroners (EUR 682,000) Abel Prize for his "revolutionary contributions to geometry," the prize committee said.

Gromov, a French citizen, celebrated his victory by sipping champagne with colleagues and students at New York University (NYU), where he teaches.

He recalled that he had missed the news because he was preparing for class. "I heard about it when I came to the department. My phone was switched off," a laughing Gromov told AFP.

A diminutive figure with a shock of grey hair and beard, Gromov was modest in his triumph.

Attending the celebration in cheap shoes, well-worn trousers and a plain shirt, he described his approach to mathematics as "vague and precise at the same time".

The 65-year-old also teaches at France's Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies (IHES) near Paris and is the third French mathematician to win the top award since it was created six years ago.

He is also the third winner in the same period from NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

The Abel Committee said in Oslo that Gromov is "always in pursuit of new questions and is constantly thinking of new ideas for solutions to old problems".

He has "produced deep and original work throughout his career and remains remarkably creative," the committee said. His work "will continue to be a source of inspiration for many future mathematical discoveries."

NYU colleagues said they were proud of his win, the latest of many awards.

"He has a unique mind with a viewpoint that has had a profound influence across mathematics," said Leslie Greengard, director of the Courant Institute.

"He's clearly one of the great mathematicians of our time."

Born in 1943 in Boksitogorsk in the Soviet Union, Gromov became a French citizen in 1992.

He studied mathematics at the Leningrad (St Petersburg) University, where he also taught before emigrating to the United States in 1974, becoming a professor at NYU.

In 1981, he joined the staff at the Paris VI University and a year later he moved over to IHES.

Gromov, who has won numerous international prizes, will receive his Abel Prize and the prize money from Norway's King Harald at an official ceremony on 19 May.

AFP / Expatica

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