Fields Medal

The Fields Medal, officially called International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics ( German: International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics ), is one of the highest awards that can be obtained as a mathematician. It is awarded to two to four mathematicians who have distinguished themselves in a particular way in the field of mathematical research every four years by the International Mathematical Union (IMU ) on the occasion of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM). By awarding a prize of 15,000 Canadian dollars is connected. When ICM at the same time two other prizes will be awarded: the Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize for contributions to applied mathematics and the Nevanlinna Prize for contributions to theoretical computer science.

Principles of ceremony

The determined by the Executive Committee of the IMU selection committee, whose members remain secret except the Chairman until the award ceremony, has the task of at least two, but preferably select four recipients, representing a variety of fields in mathematics. The founder of the price John Charles Fields regarded as fundamental principles for the award, the solution of a difficult problem and the formulation of a new theory that extends the application areas of mathematics.

Recipients of the medal must be, have been younger than 40 years before 1 January in the year in which they are awarded. The 1966 so formalized rule goes back to the put in the establishment of Fields expectation " that [ ... ] while it what in recognition of work already done, what it at the sametime Intended to be on encouragement for Further achievement on the part of the recipients [ ... ] " ( " that, even if it was already done work in recognition, it was also intended as an encouragement for further achievement on the part of the beneficiary ").

This prevented for example the award to Andrew Wiles ( born 1953 ), the proof of Modularitätssatzes ( from which the great Fermat's theorem follows ) only in 1993 and 1995 partly succeeded completely. Wiles was instead on the ICM in Berlin in 1998, a special award from the IMU, coupled with a silver plaque. Also born in the early 20th century, mathematicians such as Kolmogorov, Cartan, Weil, Leray, Pontryagin, Chern and Whitney were excluded by the age restriction because the award 1936-1950 was not awarded.

Comparison with Nobel and Abel Prize

The Fields Medal is often viewed as an equal substitute for a nonexistent Nobel Prize for mathematics because of their many years of highest prestige. With the 2002 Abel Prize donated but there is a newer counterpart, which is similar to the Nobel Prizes by the lack of age restriction, the annual ceremony, the much higher prize money and the Scandinavian selection committee.

The medal

The embossed by the Royal Canadian Mint coin is made ​​of gold and was founded in 1933 by Canadian sculptor Robert Tait McKenzie ( 1867-1938 ) designed. On the front of the head of Archimedes is shown, along with the inscription ΑΡΧΙΜΗΔΟΥΣ are ( Greek, from Archimedes '), the aphorism Transire SVVM PECTVS MVNDOQVE POTIRI (Latin, exceed the own mind and take possession of the world ') and the initials RTM of artist with the year MCMXXXIII (Roman, 1933 '). The back bears the inscription Congregati / EX TOTO ORBE / Mathematici / OB SCRIPTA INSIGNIA / TRIBVERE (Latin awarded The combined -down from all over the world mathematicians [ the medal ] due to excellent works '), behind it is a laurel branch in front of a diagram of a cylinder inscribed ball, which should have been engraved on the grave stone of Archimedes, pictured. On the edge of the name of the laureate is engraved.


The mathematician John Charles Fields was president of the organizing committee of the ICM 1924 in Toronto, Canada. The committee had after the completion of planning a surplus of about 2,700 Canadian dollars and decided which 2,500 are to be used for the award of two deserving mathematicians at one of the next congresses. As Fields died in 1932, he bequeathed to the Foundation planned 47,000 Canadian dollars. The medal was published against his express wish that it should be and therefore connected internationally and impersonal with no name under his name. The prize money was initially 1,500 Canadian dollar and increased in 1983 to 3,000 in 1986 to 6,000 in 1990 to 15,000 Canadian dollars.

The first two Fields Medals were awarded in 1936, the first selection committee comprised Birkhoff, Carathéodory, Cartan, Severi and Takagi on. An anonymous foundation allows it since 1966 to be awarded the Fields Medal to up to four mathematicians. So far, no woman has been excellent. Jean-Pierre Serre in 1954 at age 27 the youngest winners. In 1990, with Edward Witten for the first time and only time a physicist the price.

The mathematician Grigori Perelman, an expert in the field of Ricci flow, should the price of his published in 2002, but received at that time still in the verification proof of the Poincaré conjecture in 2006. However, he rejected the distinction as the only one so far.

Award winners