John Griggs Thompson, US, and Jacques Tits, France, have been awarded the 'Abel' prize and 1.2 million dollars for their work in algebra and group theory mathematics.The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters said Tits, 77, and Griggs Thompson, 75, had been given the so-called "Mathematics Nobel" because of their "profound achievements in algebra and in particular for shaping modern group theory."Their theories can be used to explain problems such as the Rubik's Cube puzzle."The achievements of John Thompson and of Jacques Tits are of extraordinary depth and influence. They complement each other and together form the backbone of modern group theory.Tits is an expert at the College de France in Paris and Griggs Thompson works at the University of Florida. They will share a prize of six million Kroner (750,000 euro, 1.2 million dollars) which will be presented on May 20 in Oslo.

Tits, who was born in Belgium, emerged very young as a brilliant maths scholar and earned his doctorate at the age of 20. The College de France says he is now one of the world's most "influential and original" mathematicians.Griggs Thompson studied at Yale University and got his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1959.

He taught at Cambridge University in England in the 1970s before going to the University of Florida.The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awarded the prize.The candidates were chosen "for their profound achievements in algebra and in particular for shaping modern group theory" stated the prize committee. Group Theory is a branch of math that is 200 years old.It deals with the concept of symmetry and helps to understand equation solution. The Award was named after a 19th century mathematician; Niels Henrik and was awarded by King Harald of Norway.The Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund was established in 2002, to award the Abel Prize for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics. The prize amount of 6 million NOK (about $1.2 million) was awarded for the first time in 2003.The prize is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, and their choice of Abel Laureate is based on a recommendation by the Abel Committee consisting of five internationally recognized mathematicians.

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