Maryna Viazovska from EPFL received the Médille Fields alongside Hugo Duminil-Copin from UNIGE.
Two Lake Geneva researchers, Maryna Viazovska, from EPFL, and Hugo Duminil-Copin, from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), have been awarded the Fields Medal. This distinction is considered the Nobel of mathematics.
The Fields Medal is awarded every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians. It was presented Tuesday in Helsinki to the winners at the opening of the congress.
At 37, Maryna Viazovska, holder of the Chair of Arithmetic at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL), is after Maryam Mirzakhani in 2014 the second woman to receive the prestigious distinction out of more than 60 mathematicians rewarded to date.
The Field Medal honors the resolution by the young professor, a specialist in number theory, of the problem of stacking spheres in dimensions 8 and 24. The question of the optimal stacking of spheres with a minimum of void between them – such than in a pyramid of oranges – has occupied mathematicians for more than four centuries.
Full professor at age 33
The researcher demonstrated that in dimensions 8 and 24, the stacks of spheres are remarkably symmetrical, following networks respectively called the E8 network and the Leech network. His 23-page proof was published in 2016, earning him accolades from the mathematical community and several prestigious accolades, EPFL said in a statement.
The career of the young mathematician, born in kyiv in Ukraine in 1984, was precocious and passionate. After a Bachelor’s degree at the Taras Shevchenko National University in kyiv, she pursued her Master’s degree in Germany, at the University of Kaiserslautern (2007), before joining that of Bonn. There, she obtained her doctorate in 2013.
In the meantime, she became a mother. In December 2016, she chose to join EPFL as a tenure-track assistant professor. Barely a year later, aged just 33, she was appointed full professor.
Also in the spotlight, Hugo Duminil-Copin, 36, is full professor at the Mathematics Section of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and permanent professor at the Institute for Higher Scientific Studies of the Paris-Sarclay University.
Hugo Duminil-Copin’s work focuses on the mathematical branch of statistical physics. He studies phase transitions – abrupt changes in the properties of matter, such as the transition from the gaseous state to the liquid state of water – using the theory of probability.
Born in 1985 in Châtenay-Malabry (F), Hugo Duminil-Copin grew up in the Paris region. In 2005, he entered the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Agrégé in mathematics and holder of a master’s degree in probability and statistics from the University of Paris-Saclay, he joined UNIGE in 2008 to complete his doctoral thesis, which he obtained in 2011, under the supervision of Professor Stanislav Smirnov. , himself a Fields Medalist in 2010.
Full professor at 29
UNIGE appointed him professor in 2013 then ordinary professor in 2014, at only 29 years old. At the same time, he joined the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in Bures-Sur-Yvette (Paris) in 2016. He has been honored with numerous prizes, including the European Mathematical Society prize and the New Horizons in Mathematics prize from the Fondation Breakthrough.
This is the fourth time that a UNIGE professor or former student has received the Fields Medal, after Vaughan Jones in 1990, Stanislas Smirnov in 2010 and Martin Hairer in 2014.
Created by Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields (1863-1932), the Fields Medal has been awarded every four years since 1936, with a maximum of four winners per edition. It can only be awarded to people under the age of 40. Each winner receives a medal and 15,000 Canadian dollars.