Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grigory Perelman and the Poincare Conjecture Revisited

The brilliant Russian mathematician, Grigory Perelman, once again makes front page news by rejecting the $1 million prize money for his work toward the solution of the famed Poincare Conjecture. Known for his staunch austerity, Perelman notified the Clay Mathematics Institute of his decision last week. In a phone call to Jim Carlson, institute president, Perelman gave no reason his decision. In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Perelman was quoted as saying he believed the prize was unfair and that he considered his contribution to solving the Poincare Conjecture no greater than that of Columbia University mathematician Richard Hamilton.

“To put it short, the main reason is my disagreement with the organized mathematical community,” Perelman, 43, told Interfax. “I don’t like their decisions, I consider them unjust.”

The Poincare Conjecture was proposed in 1904 by French mathematician Henri Poincare. Deemed the most famous open problem in topology, the conjecture remained unsolved until 2002 when Perelman published a series of clarifications of Hamilton’s proof.

In 2006, the reclusive Perelman declined to accept the coveted Fields Medal, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the field of mathematics. Perelman is currently jobless and living with this mother in St. Petersburg. Jeepers, $1 million would go a long way toward paying mom’s Borscht bills!

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