Rutgers professor wins Abel Prize

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Endre Szemerédi, a professor of computer sciences at Rutgers University in the US, has won this year’s Abel Prize, awarded annually by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (Det Norske Vitenskaps-akademi).

The winner of the Abel Prize for 2012, Endre Szemerédi. PHOTO: Det Norske Vitenskaps-akademi

The prize, which carries with it a cash award of NOK 6 million (around USD 1 million), is widely viewed as one of the most prestigious prizes in the field of mathematics in the world. It will be formally presented to Szemerédi at a ceremony in Oslo that’s traditionally attended by King Harald.

Szemerédi, a Hungarian-American mathematician born in Budapest, won the prize “for his fundamental contributions to discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science, and in recognition of the profound and lasting impact of these contributions on additive number theory an ergodic theory,” according to the Abel Committee.

The committee described descrete mathematics as the study of structures such as graphs, sequences, permutations and geometric configuartions. The mathematics of such structures form the foundation of theoretical computer science and information theory.

“Endre Szemerédi has revolutionized discrete mathematics by introducing ingenious and novel techniques, and by solving many fundamental problems,” wrote the committee in its prize citation (external link).

Szemerédi was said to be “one of the first to realize the importance of theoretical computer science,” and that he also made “deep, important and influential contributions to many other branches of mathematics.”

Szemerédi, age 61, has been a professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey since 1986 and also has held visiting posts at Stanford University, the University of Chicago and the University of South Carolina. He studied at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and received his PhD from Moscow State University.

King Harald will award the Abel Prize, named for Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, to Szemerédi at a ceremony in Oslo on May 22.

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