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Math Science

Pierre Deligne Wins Abel Prize For Contributions To Algebraic Geometry 55

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the making-you-feel-dumb dept.
ananyo writes "Belgian mathematician Pierre Deligne completed the work for which he became celebrated nearly four decades ago, but that fertile contribution to number theory has now earned him the Abel Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics. The prize is worth 6 million Norwegian krone (about US$1 million). In short, Deligne proved one of the four Weil conjectures (he proved the hardest; his mentor, Alexander Grothendieck, had proved the second conjecture in 1965) and went on to tools such as l-adic cohomology to extend algebraic geometry and to relate it to other areas of maths. 'To some extent, I feel that this money belongs to mathematics, not to me,' Deligne said, via webcast."
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Pierre Deligne Wins Abel Prize For Contributions To Algebraic Geometry

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  • by Racemaniac (1099281) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @10:51AM (#43224467)

    I'm wondering what the use of these prizes is. I thought most of them were created to help the researches, but if you only get it after you've retired, what's the use?
    of course the problem is with newer research that it's hard to estimate its longterm value (and if there was no fraud)
    but maybe they should just give these guys a nice medal, and invest the rest of the money in current promising research that probably desperately needs it?

    • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:06AM (#43224575)

      To encourage others. Even if it can't now be used for research there will at least be some people saying "Oh, so being a mathematician is a path to becoming a millionaire".

      That will encourage some kids and uni/college students. It's an attempt to try and do something about the divide in society between the recognition given to sports stars, celebrities, manufactured pop stars, and other overly glamorised non-contributors to the human race who generally get lavished in riches for nothing other than being a fucking idiot publicly and the people who do actually contribute like scientists.

      There's still a long way to go because you'll still get paid way more for nothing other than the ability to kick a ball around a field effectively than you will for curing cancer, inventing the world wide web, or sending people to the moon and robots to Mars, but at least it's an attempt at doing something about the problem of western society where idiocy is valued far more greatly than intelligence and competence.

  • ... I feel that this money belongs to mathematics, not to me,' Deligne said, via webcast."

    He then went on to demonstrate mathematically that "some" is less than "all" by grabbing the check and running for the hills.

  • I don't know if this was intentional, but I suspect it was: '“The nice thing about mathematics is doing mathematics,” Deligne said. “The prizes come in addition.”' Ha! Math humor is the best humor.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Math humor is the best humor.

      I don't know about that. I often find it has the power to divide a room.

      • by kamapuaa (555446)

        OCT31=DEC25! Wocka Wocka!

        • by Dishwasha (125561)

          Am I supposed to read that as "OCT31 equals DEC25.....NOT :P" or "OCT31 equals DEC25, surprise!"?

      • I don't know about that. I often find it has the power to divide a room.

        True, but you can't deny that minus the math haters, it provides several times the hilarity of boring, non-math humor!

      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        Math humor is the best humor.

        I don't know about that. I often find it has the power to divide a room.

        And this medal has the power to ward off the plague of bad arithmetic.

      • by jonadab (583620)
        On the other hand, math can also function to transform a group, or even form a union between groups.
    • Math humor is the best humor.

      What, humor has a total order defined on it?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Partially.

  • So I'm a software programmer and used to be a math tutor. My college hired me after I finished 18 week self-paced Algebra in 7 weeks. That's about all the further I get into besides Quickbooks and customer PC build quotes but this still doesn't seem right to me. Am I understanding this correctly?
    Weil wanted to prove that just because an area has a finite length, that means there's an actual, real number of individual points in it? Um, if you think there's 1 million points in an area or line or whatever
    • Or am I completely misinterpreting the wording of the stated Weil conjectures?

      The maths is entirely beyond me, but I'm gonna go with... yes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or am I completely misinterpreting the wording of the stated Weil conjectures?

      Yes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_point [wikipedia.org]

      (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_number [wikipedia.org])

    • They are only using integer coordinates. I do not know the math well, but I suspect that is why it is finite. Also, there are different sizes of infinity. For example, the "number set of all numbers" versus the "number set of all positive odd number integers".

      From the article: "The Weil conjectures concern the points on algebraic varieties that have integer coordinates (in the case of the circle, x and y must be whole numbers). The number of such solutions — typically, there are only finitely ma
    • by spopepro (1302967) on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @11:32AM (#43224805)

      No.

      From your comments on the matter I suspect it would be challenging to even begin to explain this to you, since it looks like you are interpreting "field" as "area". You're about 3 semesters of algebra away from understanding the vocabulary, let alone the purpose and function of these conjectures.

      Note: this isn't meant as a slam, and you shouldn't feel bad (honestly!). Cutting edge pure math research is so far out there it's really difficult to jump in as an enthusiast in the way that interested parties can casually follow things like particle physics. When I was reading algebraic topology as a phd student (I flunked out... wasn't good enough, so feel free to take this with a grain of salt) I couldn't even begin to explain what it was that I was doing to people, even very smart people, just because of how abstract it all is.

      • I think you just described my level of math knowledge as well. I was trying to understand this explanation of Weil conjectures [ucdavis.edu] and couldn't make it past the first paragraph without being lost.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I think you just described my level of math knowledge as well. I was trying to understand this explanation of Weil conjectures [ucdavis.edu] and couldn't make it past the first paragraph without being lost.

          You might want to try reading Gowers's account of the work of Deligne. It's a short article, and slightly less technical than the one you "read". Here : Pierre Deligne's Work [wordpress.com]

      • by jonadab (583620)
        > Cutting edge pure math research is so far
        > out there it's really difficult to jump in as an
        > enthusiast in the way that interested parties
        > can casually follow things like particle physics.

        Particle physics is a fairly new field -- within the last hundred years, really. We don't *know* that much yet, and so consequently an interested amateur can educate himself on a decent percentage of at least the basics in a few months' worth of free time.

        Algebra is a relatively mature field. It's been stu
    • by tbid18 (2495686)
      This is very high level mathematics, well beyond any elementary algebra (what most people think of when they hear "algebra"). This concerns number theory and abstract algebra. One would need several graduate math courses to fully understand the material.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Part of the confusion is that the use of "algebra" in advanced math is far broader and involves math far higher than what is covered in "Algebra" and "Algebra II" style classes you see in high school or in undergraduate classes. The difference is almost on par with calling an "Introduction to using MS Office" class "Computer Science 101." The first taste of the more advanced math would be an abstract algebra course taken, typically taken by a first or second year math major, cover topics like group theory

  • If that money belongs to mathematics, then we get to claim all HFT hedge funds as well.

  • Give that he spent decades of his life slaving away over complex mathematical proofs, he really ought use his well deserved prize money to buy

    Hookers

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ... and then he can tell his wife that he's with his hookers; his hookers that he's with his wife; and go to the office and do more math!

    • Assuming by "hookers" you mean "prostitutes", then you don't buy them. Just like you don't sell your body when you go to work, neither do prostitutes. Prostitutes sell a service, just like hair dressers and masseurs do. So, really, you should say that the person should buy, not "hookers", but rather "the services of hookers".

      Moreover, you could probably get free sex with a million dollars, even if you are 68.

      • by jewens (993139)
        I believe the standard prostitute EULA describes it as "a time-constrained, non-transferable license."
    • Well, Nobel prize laureate Richard Feynman his lunch breaks in strip bars, scribbling equations on napkins. So there is a precedent there . . .

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 20, 2013 @12:04PM (#43225147)

    Deligne is a huge mathematician, but :
    - Grothendieck give Deligne a lot of unpublished things, to be published;
    - Deligne use it, but never publish it,
    - Deligne made everything to hide it, and to let others think Grothendieck was fool.

    Deligne use (for his only use) the tools given by Grothendieck, but hide and destroyed the spirit of it.

    Even without this awful things he does, Deligne is on of the very big mathematician.
    But mathematics lose a lot in this malversations.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You can find recolte et semailles by Alexandre Grothendieck on http://acm.math.spbu.ru/RS/

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Weren't you?
    Since "We're all the same", and 'Diversity is our strength", or so our Jewish 'masters' keep telling us, over and over again.

    I bet you would much rather live in an all white country.

    After all, it seems as if half the third world would much rather live among white people than THEIR OWN KIND...

You can't take damsel here now.

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