The Fields Medal: History, part I

The obverse of the Fields Medal (Wikipedia)

51 Fields Medals have been awarded, 43 Fields Medalists are still alive, 1 Fields Medal was declined in 2006, and 1 silver plate was awarded in 1998 in place of a Fields Medal.

Since 1936, medals have been given at every International Congress for Mathematicians, also known as ICM. Before the first medals were awarded, there were 9 ICMs held previously, with the first in 1897. John Charles Fields, the medal’s namesake, died before the first medal was awarded. Since the 1924 ICM in Toronto and until his death Fields worked towards the establishment of an ‘international medal for research in mathematics’. He was opposed to having the award named after any particular donor, including himself. Currently the award has a financial value of $15,000.

The reverse of the Fields Medal (Wikipedia)

6 Fields Medalists have received the medal for work related to the Langlands Program. This includes mathematicians Atle Selberg (1950), Alexander Grothendieck (1966), Edward Witten (1990), Vladimir Drinfeld (1990), Laurent Lafforgue (2002), and Ngo Bao Chau (2010). There are a few mathematicians that worked indirectly in the Langlands Program including Pierre Deligne (1978) and Sir Michael Atiyah (1966).

The international community of mathematicians, which is much more difficult to quantify, has been deeply interested in the work of these mathematicians. There are likely hundreds of professional mathematicians working on directions of research related to the Langlands Program.

Part II of this post will go in depth with the historical directions of the Langlands Program. Also, rigorous estimates of mathematicians working in the Langlands Program will be made.

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Founder and Main Organizer for the Fields Undergraduate Network Will be using this blog on a regular basis
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