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After Four Years, Fields Medals Being Awarded Again to Four Talented Mathematicians

By: Sunnie Gao

At a ceremony in Helsinki, Finland, on Tuesday, the International Mathematical Union bestowed the 14-karat gold medals to Hugo Duminil-Copin, 36, of the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques; June Huh, 39, of Princeton University; James Maynard, 35, of the University of Oxford in England; and Maryna Viazovska, 37, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Those four mathematicians, whose research covered areas such as prime numbers and the packing of eight-dimensional spheres, were the latest winners of Field Medals, which are given to some of the most accomplished mathematicians under the age of 40 every four years.

Mark Braverman, 38, of Princeton University, received the Abacus Medal, a newer award created after the Field awards for young accomplished computer scientists.

Dr. Viazovska is just the second woman to receive a Fields Medal, while Dr. Huh defies the stereotype of a math prodigy, having not been drawn to math until he was 23.

The Field Medals, formed by John Charles Fields, a Canadian mathematician, were first awarded in 1936. These medals and the Abacus Medal are unique because they go to people who are still early in their careers.

Since Field awards are only announced once every four years, they are prestigious awards.

The recipients had already learned months ago that they had been chosen but were told not to share the news with friends or colleagues. They were also not told who else had been chosen.

“Officially, I don’t know,” Dr. Huh said last week. “I have guesses.”

Usually, the ceremonies for the Fields, the Abacus, and other awards take place as part of the International Congress of Mathematics, a quadrennial gathering of mathematicians. This year’s congress was supposed to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, but after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the leadership of the International Mathematical Union decided to move the congress. The awards ceremony was still held in person but was held in Helsinki.

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