Caucher Birkar, Alessio Figalli, Peter Scholze and Akshay Venkatesh were awarded the most prestigious award in mathematics for their various contributions to the academic field. At the 2018 International Congress of Mathematicians, the four winners shared their personal stories and research.
Caucher Birkar grew up in war-ridden Kurdish territory in Iran and later fled to the UK, where he was granted asylum. The Cambridge Professor devotes his time to solving the problems of modern mathematics, such as the minimal model and Fano varieties. “ I am hoping this news will put a little smile on the lips of those 40 million people,” Birkar said in his award reception video, referring to the Kurdish people.
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Alessio Figalli was awarded for his contributions to optimal transportation theory. He says that he is happy that he has been able to solve some important problems in his career, but has his work cut out for him for the next 30 or 40 years. “There is one problem I really hope to solve soon, that is me and my wife living in the same city.”
Akshay Venkatesh won a Fields Medal for his work on using dynamic models to solve problems in number theory. “Just manipulating numbers makes me feel happy,” he says. The Stanford Professor and father of two says he feels lucky to be a part of something so meaningful and continues to impress by detecting connections between diverse areas of Mathematics.
Peter Scholze is already considered one of the most influential mathematicians in the world. The soft-spoken specialist in arithmetic algebraic geometry is eager to continue his brilliant trajectory: “There are infinite numbers of problems. As soon as you solve one problem, there are 10 more coming.”