We remember some mathematicians for them theorems or conjectures. However, others remain in our memory through the programs they initiate. This is the case with Robert P. Langlands, who received today the Abel Prize.
But What’s the Abel Prize?
The Abel Prize is recognized as one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics. It is given by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Basically, it is worth 6 million Norwegian krone (which equals 550,000 pounds). Many see it as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in mathematics.
Who Is Robert Langlands?
He is an important mathematician aged 81. He received the prize for the Langlands program, which he initiated. This is a very ambitious project, which many people call the ‘grand unified theory of mathematics’.
Langlands was born in New Westminster, Canada, in 1936. Initially, he had no intention to go to college, but when a teacher told him it would betray the God-given talents, he decided to do it. As such, he signed up at the University of British Columbia when he was 16. He followed a bachelor’s degree, which he finished in 1957, and the master degree one year later. Then, he studied at Yale and Princeton.
Through his work in mathematics, he managed to win several awards. One of them, for example, is the US National Academy of Sciences Award in Mathematics, which he won in 1988. Together with Andrew Wiles, he won the Wolf Prize in 1996 for their work. Besides, he also won the American Mathematical Society Steele Prize in 2005, the Nemmers Prize for Mathematics in 2006 and the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences in 2007, together with Richard Taylor.
Now, at 81 years old, he keeps working at the Institute for Advanced Study. Langlands is an Emeritus Professor, and he works in the office that was used once by none other than Albert Einstein.