Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Don't Show Me the Money

Russian math nerds don't party, we guess:

Dr. Grigory Perelman, who has solved one of the most complicated math problems, is going to refuse the $1 million reward from a U.S. institute next Tuesday, claiming the prize was the solution of the problem. The Russian genius has found a solution to the century-old problem set by the French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Jules Henri Poincare in 2002. The conjecture, which is difficult for most non-mathematicians even to understand, exercised some of the greatest minds of the 20th century. No one has been able to find a mistake in Perelman’s solution and there is a growing consensus that he has cracked the problem.

Next Tuesday Perelman is tipped to win a Fields medal. But even by the standards of troubled maths virtuosos such as John Nash, portrayed in the film A Beautiful Mind, Dr. Perelman is described as “unconventional”.

.... He has also refused a major European math prize, supposedly on the grounds that he did not believe the committee awarding the prize was sufficiently qualified to judge his work.

“I just don’t see him turning up in a stretch limo with four over-endowed women and waving his cheque in the air. It’s not his style,” said Jeremy Gray, a math historian at the University of Oxford.

“I think he’s a very unconventional person. He’s against being involved in pageantry and idolatry,” said Arthur Jaffe at Harvard University. “But he carries it to extreme which people might describe as a little crazy.”

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