Robert Langlands wins Abel Price 2018 for unifying mathematical areas

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The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded this year the Abel Prize, considered the Nobel Prize in Mathematics, to the researcher Robert P. Langlands of the Institute of Advanced Studies of Princeton (USA). The jury recognizes the visionary program promoted by the winner to integrate various mathematical disciplines, such as harmonic analysis and number theory, according to the president of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, Ole M. Sejersted.

The Abel 2018 Award, sometimes known as the 'Nobel' of mathematics, recognizes a work that dates back to January 1967. At that time, at just over 30 years, Langlands was an associate professor at Princeton University (EE UU), where he worked during the Christmas holidays.

The ideas of Langlands allowed to unite mathematical areas that led to the Langlands Program, which has been joined by hundreds of the best mathematicians in the world for 50 years

The young professor decided to write a 17-page letter to the veteran and great French mathematician André Weil, who was twice his age, to present some of his revolutionary ideas with the following comment: "If you are willing to read it as pure speculation, you I'd appreciate it, otherwise I'm sure you have a wastebasket on hand. "

Fortunately the letter did not finally end up in the bin. That document presented a theory that generated a completely new vision of thinking about mathematics. In an original way, he intimately linked two areas: number theory and harmonic analysis, two disciplines that until then were considered unrelated.

The Langlands Program

The ideas of Langlands were so radical and so rich that the mechanisms that proposed to unite these mathematical areas led to the so-called Langlands program, which has been joined by hundreds of the best mathematicians in the world in the last fifty years.

No other project of modern mathematics has such a broad scope, has produced so many relevant results and has involved so many people working on it. Its depth and breadth have grown and currently this program is often considered as a great unified theory of mathematics, especially of number theory with geometry.

At present Langlands, born in New Westminster (British Columbia-Canada, 1936), is a professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1957, and after taking a master's degree in 1958, he received his doctorate from Yale University (USA) in 1960.

Since then he has held various academic positions at this university and Princeton. Before Abel, he had already won other prizes in recognition of his contributions to the theory of automorphic forms, which together with the theory of representation had an important effect on the theory of numbers.

Langlands will receive the Abel Prize, endowed with 623,000 euros, from the hands of King Harald V of Norway in a ceremony to be held on May 22 in Oslo.