Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Topologist Ian Agol, Veblen Prize recipient, wins Breakthrough Prize

A winner of the 2013 Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry, Ian Agol, has also just won a Breakthrough Prize of $3 million, for what the prize foundation terms "spectacular contributions to low-dimensional topology and geometric group theory". In a NY Times article, Mark Zuckerberg, one of the founders of the Breakthrough Prizes, described them this way: “The Breakthrough Prize honors achievements in science and math so we can encourage more pioneering research and celebrate scientists as the heroes they truly are.”

Though Agol is based at the University of California, Berkeley, he has a one year position at the Institute for Advanced Study, which includes leading a workshop on 3-dimensional manifolds the week of Dec. 7.

It's interesting to trace the lineage of mathematicians via the Mathematics Genealogy Project. Working back from Ian Agol, for instance, the string of advisors are Michael Hartley Freedman, William Browder, John Coleman Moore, George William Whitehead, Jr., Norman Earl Steenrod, and then Solomon Lefschetz, who succeeded Oswald Veblen as Fine Professor in Princeton's Department of Mathematics after Veblen moved to the IAS in 1933. Another bio of Lefschetz, who was trained in Europe, can be found here.

Agol's thoughts upon receiving the Veblen Prize can be found on pp. 14-16 at this link.

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