An Overview of the Wolf Prize in Mathematics

The Wolf Prize in Mathematics was probably one of the closest and first equivalents to the “Nobel Prize” for Mathematics. This is one of the six Wolf Prizes that are awarded since its establishment in 1978. The other awards include: Agriculture, Chemistry, Medicine, Physics, and the Arts. It is awarded by the Wolf Foundation. One should know how the Wolf Foundation was formed.

Three years prior in 1975, it was Dr. Ricardo Wolf that established the Wolf Foundation. Wolf was born in Germany who worked as an inventor, diplomat, and philanthropist. He was also the former Cuban ambassador to Israel. Wolf was born in 1887 and died in 1981. His parents were pillars of the Jewish community of Hanover, Germany. Wolf was one of fourteen children born to Moritz Wolf.

Wolf would immigrate to Cuba before World War I. He was a strong supporter of Fidel Castro at the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. In 1961, Castro would appoint Wolf as the Cuban Ambassador to Israel. Wolf would spend his last years in Israel. This is due to relinquishing his diplomatic post in 1973. It was when diplomatic ties between Israel and Cuba were severed.

As the Wolf Foundation was established in 1975, its activities would start in 1976. It would receive an endowment fund donated by the Wolf family. Wolf and his wife Francisca would ante up the money.

Its aims are:

– The awarding of prizes to outstanding scientists and artists for the achievements in the interesting of mankind and friendly relations among people.

– The awarding of scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students along with grants to scientists engaging at research in Israel.

For that reason, the Wolf Prize was formed. It would be the first equivalent to the Nobel Prize in Mathematics. In 2002, the Abel Prize for Mathematics was established as well. The annual prize is $100,000 is US dollars.

The first winners were Israel Gelfand of the Soviet Union and Carl L. Siegel of West Germany. This was back in 1978. Gelfand received the Wolf Prize for his work in functional analysis, group representation, and contributions to other areas of mathematics and applications.

Siegel received the prize for his contributions to the theory of numbers, theory of several complex variables, and celestial mechanics.

In 2008, three people received the Wolf Prize in Mathematics: Pierre Deligne of Belgum and Phillip A. Griffiths & David B. Mumford of the United States.

Deligne was awarded for his work on mixed Hodge theory, the Weil conjectures, the Riemann-Hilbert correspondence, and the contribution to arithmetic.

Griffiths was awarded for his work on variations of Hodge structures and contributions to complex differential geometry.

Mumford was awarded for laying the foundations of the modern algebraic theory of moduli of curves.