The 2020 Abel Prize is jointly awarded to Gregory Margulis, former Member (1991, 2006) in the School of Mathematics, and Hillel Furstenberg. Margulis, of Yale University, and Furstenberg, of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, are cited by the Abel Committee for “pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in group theory, number theory, and combinatorics.”
Awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Abel Prize is an international commendation that acknowledges contributions to the field of mathematics that are of extraordinary depth and influence.
Margulis first joined the Institute for Advanced Study as a Member in 1991 and returned for a second Membership in 2006. A Fields Medalist (1978) and winner of the Wolf Prize in Mathematics (2005), Margulis counts among his many achievements the proof of the Selberg-Piatetskii-Shapiro conjecture, a resolution to the 1929 Oppenheim conjecture, the first construction of expander graphs with applications to communications technology and computer science, and breakthrough work on Kazhdan’s property (T). Margulis was born in Moscow in 1946 and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Moscow in 1970.
While Margulis and Furstenberg did not formally collaborate, the intersections of their work are clear. Each conducted pioneering research in the field of random walk techniques, which constitutes a central branch of probability theory. These techniques are used to investigate mathematical objects such as groups and graphs, and have introduced probabilistic methods to solve many outstanding problems in group theory, number theory, combinatorics, and graph theory.
“The works of Furstenberg and Margulis have demonstrated the effectiveness of crossing boundaries between separate mathematical disciplines and brought down the traditional wall between pure and applied mathematics,” says Hans Munthe-Kaas, chair of the Abel committee.
Presentation of the Abel Prize by H.M. King Harald V and the Laureate ceremony had been scheduled to take place in Oslo on May 19. However, due to ongoing public health concerns, the honoring of Abel Prize Laureates will be announced at a later time.
Since the Abel Prize was first presented in 2003, 19 of 22 Abel Prizes to date have been awarded to IAS scholars, including Jean-Pierre Serre (2003), Michael Atiyah & Isadore Singer (2004), Peter D. Lax (2005), Lennart Carleson (2006), Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan (2007), John G. Thompson & Jacques L. Tits (2008), John T. Tate (2010), John Willard Milnor (2011), Endre Szemerédi (2012), Pierre Deligne (2013), Yakov G. Sinai (2014), John Forbes Nash & Louis Nirenberg (2015), Andrew Wiles (2016), Robert P. Langlands (2018), and Karen Uhlenbeck (2019).
Read more from The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.