Furstenberg and Margulis to share the Abel Prize on founding order in chaos

Abel Prize, the mathematics award which is equivalent to a Nobel, for this year goes to the Professor Hillel Furstenberg, 84, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Professor Gregory Margulis, 74, of Yale University.

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Furstenberg and Margulis to share the Abel Prize on founding order in chaos

Mathematicians who showed how a valued enough branch of the field could be employed to solve important problems share this year’s Abel Prize, the mathematics award which is equivalent to a Nobel.

The Abel Prize for this year goes to the Professor Hillel Furstenberg, 84, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Professor Gregory Margulis, 74, of Yale University.

The commendation for the prize, awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, lauds the two mathematicians “for pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in the field of group theory, number theory and combinatorics.”

Professor Dr. Furstenberg and Professor Dr. Margulis will share the award money of 7.5 million Norwegian kroner, or 107,450,579.10 Pakistani Rupee.

There is no Nobel Prize in field of mathematics. For decades, the most distinguished awards in mathematics were the Fields Medals, which awarded in small groups every four years to the most competent mathematicians who are age of forty or younger.

Abel Prize granted every year for research in mathematics, in remembrance of the brilliant and extraordinary 19th-century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel. A pioneer in the development and improvement of particular branches of modern mathematics.

Abel studied the mathematical works of the 17th-century English mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, the 18th-century German Leonhard Euler, and his compeer the French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange and the German man Carl Friedrich Gauss in preparation for his own research.

The Niels Henrik Abel Memorial fund was established on 1st January 2002 and it is administrated by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

The real focus of the fund is to award an international prize for “outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematical sciences.”
The prize is also used to help raise the status of mathematics in society and to encourage the interest of people in mathematics.

Responsibility for the Abel Prize and for other uses of the funds lies with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

The fund also keep-up one or two Abel Symposia every year on different fields of mathematics, and in 2005 the fund created the Bernt Michael Holmboe Memorial Prize for the encouragement of high quality in teaching mathematics, in honor of Abel’s own mathematics teacher.

The prize, which is worth about $1 million, was first time awarded in 2003 to the French mathematician Jean-Pierre Serre.

Professor Hillel Furstenberg was born in 1935 Berlin, Germany. Following a career in mathematics at different universities in the United States, he left the country in 1965 for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he stayed until his retirement in 2003.

Spending most of his career in Israel, he helped to establish the country as a world center for mathematical sciences. Furstenberg has also won the Israel Prize and the Wolf Prize in his career.

When Hillel Furstenberg published one of his initial papers, a hearsay goes around that he was not an independent but instead an ally for a group of mathematicians. The paper having ideas from so many different areas, surely it could not possibly be the work of one man?

Furstenberg said that he did not disbelief when he learnt he had won. “I had must know about the importance of the acknowledgement of this title and knew the list of former laureates,” he told an interviewer during the announcement.

“I simply felt that these are people of a certain league, and I was not in that league.” He added that, early on, he did not predict the impact that his ideas were going to have. “For any mathematician, I follow my nose and look for what appears to be very fascinating.”

Professor Dr. Gregory Margulis was born in 1946 in Moscow, Russia. In 1978, when he was only 32 years old, he won the Fields Medal but was unable to receive the medal in Helsinki since the Soviet authorities refused him a visa.

He was considered one of the best young mathematicians in the Soviet Union, but he did not find a job at Moscow University as he faced differentiate for being of Jewish origin. Alternatively, he found work at the Institute for Problems in Information Transmission.

During the 1980s, he visited academic institutions in Europe and the United States. Before sort-out himself at Yale in 1991, where he has been ever since.
Professor Margulis is a winner of some awards in his career including Lobachevsky Prize and the Wolf Prize.

Professor Margulis said that he, too, felt great honored to achieve such acknowledgement from the mathematical community.

Chaotic system is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. Almost all conventional science deals with supposedly expected occurrence like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions.

Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are constructively impossible to forecast or control, as instability, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These occurrences are often described by fractal mathematics, which computing the infinite complication of nature.

Many natural objects manifest fractal properties, counting landscapes, clouds, trees, organs, rivers etc. And many of the systems in which we live show complicated, chaotic behavior.

Recognizing the chaotic, fractal nature of our world can give us new insight, power, and wisdom. For example, by understanding the complex, chaotic dynamics of the atmosphere, a balloon pilot can “steer” a balloon to a desired position.

By interpretation that our ecosystems, our social systems, and our economic systems are connected with each other. We can hope to keep away measures which may end up being injurious to our long-term well-being.

A mathematician, Alex Lubotzky at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, student of Furstenberg said, “even if you have chaos, if you look very carefully definitely you will find order in it. It’s as the stars in the sky they look like completely random, but the ancient Greeks could observe the constellations.”

The writer is research scholar at department of Mathematics, COMSATS University Islamabad. He can be reached at abidaminnaeem@gmail.com


Abid Amin Naeem

By Abid Amin Naeem

As a mathematician turned digital columnist and science writer, I embark on a journey to ignite curiosity and unravel the wonders of science that inspire and enlighten.