Tag: Poincare conjecture

Brilliant & Reclusive Russian Mathematician Doesn't Need Your Prize Money

By Andrew Moseman | July 2, 2010 10:37 am

perelmanGrigori Perelman isn’t much for prizes. This week Perelman, one of the world best and strangest mathematicians, proved it again by turning down a $1 million dollar prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute Millennium Prize for solving one of the most troubling math problems of the last century.

The Poincaré conjecture, named after prominent French mathematician Henri Poincaré, involves a complex problem in the field of topology — an important area of math that studies the enduring properties of objects that are stretched or otherwise deformed, but not torn or otherwise reconstituted. Scores of prominent mathematicians tried to solve it over decades but failed, leading to its characterization as the Mount Everest of math [Washington Post].

In 2003 Perelman put forth his solution to the conjecture, but not in the traditional way of putting it through the peer review process. Instead, he simply emerged from the shadows and threw his work up on the Internet with in a rebellious, “ta-da,” and waited for the world to catch up.

After a brief barnstorming tour in the United States, during which he refused interviews, Dr. Perelman returned to Russia, leaving the world’s mathematicians to pick up the pieces and decide whether he had really done it. A worldwide race to retrace, explicate and check Dr. Perelman’s proof ensued. In the meantime, Dr. Perelman quit his post at the Steklov Mathematical Institute, moved in with his mother and ceased communicating with the outside world [The New York Times].

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