Overview of the Abel Prize

The Abel Prize is a recent type of annual international prize in regards to mathematics. In a sense, the Abel Prize is the Norwegian equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Unlike the Nobel Prize, the Abel Prize is focused on the field of mathematics. This is because that the field of mathematics is not included in the Nobel Prize.

In that respect, mathematicians were left out in the cold. This prize is annually presented by the King of Norway. There can be more than one recipient of the Abel Prize. The Prize is named after Niels Henrik Abel of Norway. He was born in 1802 and died in 1829. It is the “Nobel Prize” of mathematics and form mathematicians. Abel died at a very young age. He is known for proving the impossibility of solving the quintic equation in radicals. Abel would pass away on April 8, 1829. He was supposed to be appointed a university professor.

As a result of Abel’s work, there are the following: Abel’s theorem, Abelian Function, Abel’s Inequality, Abel’s Idenity, and Abel Equation.

Originally, the Abel Prize was supposed to be on the 100th anniversary of Abel’s birth back in 1902. The idea was proposed by Marius Sophus Lie, another Norwegian-born mathematician. Lie was an honorary member of the London Mathematical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He discovered a set of transformation groups which are called “Lie groups.” Lie would die a few years later after proposing this idea.

King Oscar II was willing to finance the prize in the name of Abel. Lie came up with the idea when he learned that Alfred Nobel would exclude mathematics from the prizes. However, the Abel Prize would not see the light of day until the 200th anniversary of Abel’s birth which is in 2002. The reason being was that Lie’s influence died with him. Also, the union between both Sweden and Norway would dissolve in 1905.

The Abel Prize would be officially created in 2002. Interest was sparked back in 2001 when a group made a proposal. It would be presented to Norway’s PM in May of 2001. Several months later, it would be announced that the first Abel Prize would be awarded in 2002.

The first recipient would be Jean-Pierre Serre of France in 2003. Serre received the price for his instrumental role of shaping the modern form of many aspects of mathematics.

In 2004, it would be Michael F. Atiyah of Britian and Isadore M. Singer of the United States. They would be awarded for discovery and proof of the index theorem. In addition, they were awarded for their role of bridging together mathematics and theoretical physics. Plus, they were also awarded for bridging topology, geometry, and analysis.

In 2005, Peter D. Lax would be awarded the Abel Prize for his groundbreaking contributions to the theory and application of partial differential equations.

In 2006, Lennart Carleson of Sweden would be awarded for his contributions to harmonic analysis and the theory of smooth dynamical systems.

In 2007, S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan of India would be awarded for his contributions to probability theory.

In 2008, John G. Thompson of the United States and Jacque Tits of Belgium/France would be awarded for their achievements in algebra.

The Abel Prize is fairly new. However, this is the Nobel Prize of mathematicians. It is a means to add more publicity to the field of mathematics. Also, it brings more prestige to the field of science.

The prize money is almost the same as being awarded one-million US dollars. A committee of five international mathematicians selects the winner. The winner is declared by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.