Nobel and other Prizes

What is Fields Medal, the ‘Mathematics Nobel’?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fields Medal

Mains level : NA

Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska was named as one of four recipients of the prestigious Fields Medal, which is often described as the Nobel Prize in mathematics.

What is Fields Medal?

  • The Fields Medal is awarded by the International Mathematical Union (IMU), an international non-governmental and non-profit scientific organisation.
  • It is awarded every four years to one or more mathematicians under the age of 40 in recognition of “outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement”.
  • The winners are announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), which was supposed to be held in Russia this year, but was moved to Helsinki.

Belongings of the award

  • The honour carries a physical medal of 14K gold, 63.5 mm in diameter and weighing 169 g, and with a unit price of approximately 5,500 Canadian dollars.
  • There is also a cash award of CAD 15,000.
  • The obverse of the medal is embossed with the head of Archimedes facing right, and some Latin quotes.

History of the Medal

  • According to the IMU website, the 1924 ICM in Toronto adopted a resolution that at each conference, two gold medals would be awarded to recognise outstanding mathematical achievement.
  • The Canadian mathematician Prof J C Fields, who was secretary of the 1924 Congress, later donated funds to establish the medals, which were named in his honour.
  • In 1966, it was agreed that, in light of the great expansion of mathematical research, up to four medals could be awarded at each Congress.

Indian-origin winners

  • Among the more than 60 mathematicians who have been awarded the Fields Medal since 1936, there are two of Indian origin.
  • Akshay Venkatesh of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, won in 2018, the last time the honour was announced.
  • Manjul Bhargava of the Department of Mathematics at Princeton University was awarded in 2014.


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