Text originally appeared on www.abelprize.no
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the Abel Prize for 2018 to Robert P. Langlands of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA “for his visionary program connecting representation theory to number theory.”
Robert P. Langlands has been awarded the Abel Prize for his work dating back to January 1967. He was then a 30-year-old associate professor at Princeton, working during the Christmas break. He wrote a 17-page letter to the great French mathematician André Weil, aged 60, outlining some of his new mathematical insights.
“If you are willing to read it as pure speculation I would appreciate that,” he wrote. “If not – I am sure you have a waste basket handy.”
Fortunately, the letter did not end up in a waste basket. His letter introduced a theory that created a completely new way of thinking about mathematics: it suggested deep links between two areas, number theory and harmonic analysis, which had previously been considered as unrelated.
Robert P. Langlands will receive the Abel Prize for his work from His Majesty King Harald V at an award ceremony in Oslo on 22 May. Langlands’ insights were so radical and so rich that the mechanisms he suggested to bridge these mathematical fields led to a project named the Langlands program. The program has enlisted hundreds of the world’s best mathematicians over the last fifty years. No other project in modern mathematics has as wide a scope, has produced so many deep results, and has so many people working on it. Its depth and breadth have grown and the 1 Langlands program is now frequently described as a grand unified theory of mathematics.
The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Ole M. Sejersted, announced the winner of the 2018 Abel Prize at the Academy in Oslo today, 20 March.
Robert P. Langlands was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, in 1936. He graduated from the University of British Columbia with an undergraduate degree in 1957 and an MSc in 1958, and from Yale University with a PhD in 1960. He has held faculty positions at Princeton University and Yale University, and is currently a Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has won several awards as recognition of his outstanding contributions to the theory of automorphic forms.
Awards and recognitions
The Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences
The Nemmers Prize in Mathematics
The Wolf Prize in Mathematics (jointly with Sir Andrew Wiles)
The Leroy P. Steele Prize
The Grande Médaille d’Or of the French Academy of Sciences
The inaugural National Academy of Sciences Award in Mathematics
The Common Wealth Award
The American Mathematical Society’s Cole Prize