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The Fields Medals (I): Relating the Continuous and the Discrete

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Science  20 Oct 1978:
Vol. 202, Issue 4365, pp. 297-298
DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4365.297


The highest award to which a mathematician can aspire is the Fields Medal, an award comparable in many respects to a Nobel Prize in the prestige it confers. J.C. Fields, who set up a trust for the gold medals that constitute the award, said only that they should be made "in recognition of work already done and as an encouragement for further achievements on the part of the recipient." This has been interpreted to mean that the medals should be given to young mathematicians (generally those under the age of 40), a tradition that has been closely followed since the first two medals were awarded in 1936. The Fields Medals are given out only every 4 years, at the quadrennial convening of the International Congress of Mathematicians. This year, Fields Medals were presented to Gregory A. Margoulis of the Soviet Union, Daniel Quillan of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Charles Fefferman of Princeton University, and Pierre Deligne of the Institute des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in France.