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Maryna Viazovska: Ukrainian mathematician receives Fields Medal


The Fields Medal is to mathematics what Nobel Prizes are to science. One of the 2022 winners is the 37-year-old Ukrainian Maryna Viazovska.

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Number theorist: Maryna Viazovska at the EPFL in Lausanne

Photo: Handout Fred Merz / AP

The Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska is only the second woman to be awarded the renowned Fields Medal.

She received the mathematics award on Tuesday at Aalto University in Finland with the three other prizewinners Hugo Duminil-Copin from the University of Geneva, June Huh from Princeton University and James Maynard from Oxford.

The prestige of the International Mathematical Union (IMU) medal is comparable to that of the Nobel prizes.

The 37-year-old Viazovska is only the second woman after Maryam Mirzakhani in 2014 to receive a Fields Medal, said the Swiss university EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne), where Viazovska is a professor specializing in number theory.

The mathematician from Kyiv also held positions in Germany over the course of her career, for example at the Berlin Mathematical School and the Humboldt University in Berlin.

According to EPFL, Viazovska has been awarded for solving the problem of sphere packing in dimensions 8 and 24.

"The question of how to pack spheres as close together as possible, for example in an orange pyramid, has occupied mathematics for more than four centuries."

Mathematics helped to get over the fear of war

The award was first presented in 1936 and is intended every four years to honor up to four outstanding researchers in mathematics who must not be older than 40 years.

In 2018, the Bonn mathematician Peter Scholze was only the second German to receive the Fields Medal.

Another high-ranking mathematics award is the Abel Prize, which is awarded annually and without age restrictions.

The medals were originally to be presented at the 2022 International Congress of Mathematicians in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the event will take place digitally this year.

The IMU Executive Committee had condemned Russia's actions in the strongest possible terms.

Viazovska said the attack changed her life and that of all Ukrainians.

"When the war started, I couldn't think about anything else, including mathematics," she said.

But her teaching has forced her to concentrate.

"It also helped me to forget the fear and worry inside me."


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-07-05

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