Monday, April 02, 2007
The Fields Medal, a maximum of four of which are awarded every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), is the most prestigious award in mathematics and is commonly regarded as the "Mathematicians' Nobel". The comparison, however, is not quite accurate. The Fields Medal is awarded to young mathematicians in recognition of outstanding mathematical achievement for existing work and for the promise of future achievement. That is Fields Medal is given for a body of work rather than a particular result, which is not always the case with the Nobel Prize. From this perspective, it has been decided that a candidate's 40th birthday must not occur before January 1 of the year of the Congress. In the 70 years since the first award was given in Oslo in 1936, there have been 42 Fields Medallists. Three have gone to candidates making significant advances towards proving the Poincare Conjecture, the 102-year-old conjecture in mathematics posed by French mathematician Henri Poincare (1854-1912).