Wolf Prize

The Wolf Prize in mathematics

The Wolf Prize in mathematics has been awarded since 1978. The books [ 1] and [ 2] contain details of the life and work of the winners between 1978 and 2000. We quote from the Preface of the books:-

There is no Nobel prize in mathematics. Perhaps this is a good thing. Nobel prizes create so much public attention that mathematicians would lose their concentration to work. There are several other prizes for mathematicians. There is the Fields Medal (only for mathematicians); it honours outstanding work and encourages further efforts.

Then there is the Wolf Prize. The Wolf Foundation began its activities in 1976. Since 1978, five or six annual prizes have been awarded to outstanding scientists and artists, irrespective of nationality, race, colour, religion, sex or political view, for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among people. In science, the fields are agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, and physics; in the arts, the prize rotates annually among music, painting, sculpture and architecture.

The Fields Medal goes to young people, and indeed many mathematicians do their best work in the early years of their life. The Wolf Prize often honours the achievements of a whole life. But it may also honour the work of young people. The first Wolf Prize winners in mathematics were Izrail M Gel'fand and Carl L Siegel (1978). Siegel was born in 1896 and Gel'fand in 1913. Several prize winners were born before 1910. Thus the achievements of the prize winners cover much of the twentieth century.

The documents collected in these two volumes characterize the Wolf Prize winners in a form not available up to now: bibliographies and curricula vitae, autobiographical accounts, reprints of early papers or especially important papers, lectures and speeches, for example at International Congresses, as well as reports on the work of the prize winners by others. Since the work of the Wolf laureates covers a wide spectrum, a large part of contemporary mathematics comes to life in these books.

Wolf Prize winners in mathematics:

1978 - Izrail M Gelfand

... for his work in functional analysis, group representation, and for his seminal contributions to many areas of mathematics and its applications.
1978 - Carl L Siegel
... for his contributions to the theory of numbers, theory of several complex variables, and celestial mechanics.
1979 - Jean Leray
... for pioneering work on the development and application of topological methods to the study of differential equations.
1979 - André Weil
... for his inspired introduction of algebro-geometry methods to the theory of numbers.
1980 - Henri Cartan
... for pioneering work in algebraic topology, complex variables, homological algebra and inspired leadership of a generation of mathematicians.
1980 - Andrei N Kolmogorov
... for deep and original discoveries in Fourier analysis, probability theory, ergodic theory and dynamical systems.
1981 - Lars V Ahlfors
... for seminal discoveries and the creation of powerful new methods in geometric function theory.
1981 - Oscar Zariski
... creator of the modern approach to algebraic geometry, by its fusion with commutative algebra.
1982 - Hassler Whitney
... for his fundamental work in algebraic topology, differential geometry and differential topology.
1982 - Mark Grigor'evich Krein
... for his fundamental contributions to functional analysis and its applications.
1983/4 - Shiing-Shen Chern
... for outstanding contributions to global differential geometry, which have profoundly influenced all mathematics.
1983/4 - Paul Erdős
... for his numerous contributions to number theory, combinatorics, probability, set theory and mathematical analysis, and for personally stimulating mathematicians the world over.
1984/5 - Kunihiko Kodaira
... for his outstanding contributions to the study of complex manifolds and algebraic varieties.
1984/5 - Hans Lewy
... for initiating many, now classic and essential, developments in partial differential equations.
1986 - Samuel Eilenberg
... for his fundamental work in algebraic topology and homological algebra.
1986 - Atle Selberg
... for his profound and original work on number theory and on discrete groups and automorphic forms.
1987 - Kiyosi Itô
... for his fundamental contributions to pure and applied probability theory, especially the creation of the stochastic differential and integral calculus.
1987 - Peter D Lax
... for his outstanding contributions to many areas of analysis and applied mathematics.
1988 - Friedrich Hirzebruch
... for outstanding work combining topology, algebraic and differential geometry, and algebraic number theory; and for his stimulation of mathematical cooperation and research.
1988 - Lars Hörmander
... for fundamental work in modern analysis, in particular, the application of pseudo-differential and Fourier integral operators to linear partial differential equations.
1989 - Alberto P Calderon
... for his groundbreaking work on singular integral operators and their application to important problems in partial differential equations.
1989 - John W Milnor
... for ingenious and highly original discoveries in geometry, which have opened important new vistas in topology from the algebraic, combinatorial, and differentiable viewpoint.
1990 - Ennio De Giorgi
... for his innovating ideas and fundamental achievements in partial differential equations and calculus of variations.
1990 - Ilya Piatetski-Shapiro
... for his fundamental contributions in the fields of homogeneous complex domains, discrete groups, representation theory and automorphic forms.
1992 - Lennart A E Carleson
... for his fundamental contributions to Fourier analysis, complex analysis, quasi-conformal mappings and dynamical systems.
1992 - John G Thompson
... for his profound contributions to all aspects of finite group theory and connections with other branches of mathematics.
1993 - Mikhael Gromov
... for his revolutionary contributions to global Riemmanian and symplectic geometry, algebraic topology, geometric group theory and the theory of partial differential equations.
1993 - Jacques Tits
... for his pioneering and fundamental contributions to the theory of the structure of algebraic and other classes of groups and in particular for the theory of buildings.
1994/5 - Jürgen K Moser
... for his fundamental work on stability in Hamiltonian mechanics and his profound and influential contributions to nonlinear differential equations.
1995/6 - Robert Langlands
... for his path-blazing work and extraordinary insight in the fields of number theory, automorphic forms and group representation.
1995/6 - Andrew J Wiles
... for spectacular contributions to number theory and related fields, major advances on fundamental conjectures, and for settling Fermat s last theorem.
1996/7 - Joseph B Keller
... for his innovative contributions, in particular to electromagnetic, optical, acoustic wave propagation and to fluid, solid, quantum and statistical mechanics.
1996/7 - Yakov G Sinai
... for his fundamental contributions to mathematically rigorous methods in statistical mechanics and the ergodic theory of dynamical systems and their applications in physics.
1999 - László Lovász
... for his outstanding contributions to combinatorics, theoretical computer science and combinatorial optimization.
1999 - Elias M Stein
... for his contributions to classical and "Euclidean" Fourier analysis and for his exceptional impact on a new generation of analysts through his eloquent teaching and writing.
2000 - Raoul Bott
... for his deep discoveries in topology and differencial geometry and their applications to Lie groups, differential operators and mathematical physics.
2000 - Jean-Pierre Serre
... for his many fundamental contributions to topology, algebraic geometry, algebra, and number theory and his inspirational lectures and writing.
2001 - Vladimir I Arnold
... for his deep and influential work in a multitude of areas of mathematics, including dynamical systems, differential equations, and singularity theory.
2001 - Saharon Shelah
... for his many fundamental contributions to mathematical logic and set theory, and their applications within other parts of mathematics.
2002/3 - Mikio Sato
... for his creation of "algebraic analysis", including hyperfunction and microfunction theory, holonomic quantum field theory, and a unified theory of soliton equations.
2002/3 - John T Tate
... for his creation of fundamental concepts in algebraic number theory.
2005 - Gregory A Margulis
... for his monumental contributions to algebra, in particular to the theory of lattices in semi-simple Lie groups, and striking applications of this to ergodic theory, representation theory, number theory, combinatorics, and measure theory.
2005 - Sergei P Novikov
... for his fundamental and pioneering contributions to algebraic and differential topology, and to mathematical physics, notably the introduction of algebraic-geometric methods.
2006/7 - Stephen Smale
... for his groundbreaking contributions that have played a fundamental role in shaping differential topology, dynamical systems, mathematical economics, and other subjects in mathematics.
2006/7 - Harry Furstenberg
... for his profound contributions to ergodic theory, probability, topological dynamics, analysis on symmetric spaces and homogenous flows.
2008 - Pierre R Deligne
... for his work on mixed Hodge theory; the Weil conjectures; the Riemann-Hilbert correspondence; and for his contributions to arithmetic.
2008 - Phillip A Griffiths
... for his work on variations of Hodge structures; the theory of periods of abelian integrals; and for his contributions to complex differential geometry.
2008 - David B Mumford
... for his work on algebraic surfaces; on geometric invariant theory; and for laying the foundations of the modern algebraic theory of moduli of curves and theta functions.
2010 - Shing-Tung Yau
... for his work in geometric analysis that has had a profound and dramatic impact on many areas of geometry and physics;
2010 - Dennis Sullivan
... for his innovative contributions to algebraic topology and conformal dynamics.
2012 - Michael Aschbacher
... for his work on the theory of finite groups.
2012 - Luis Caffarelli
... for his work on partial differential equations.
2013 - George D. Mostow
... for his fundamental and pioneering contribution to geometry and Lie group theory.
2013 - Michael Artin
... for his fundamental contributions to algebraic geometry. His mathematical accomplishments are astonishing for their depth and their scope.
2014 - Peter Sarnak
... for his deep contributions in analysis, number theory, geometry, and combinatorics.
2015 - James G Arthur
... for his monumental work on the trace formula and his fundamental contributions to the theory of automorphic representations of reductive groups.


  1. S S Chern and F Hirzebruch (eds.), Wolf Prize in mathematics Vol. 1 (River Edge, NJ, 2000).

  2. S S Chern and F Hirzebruch (eds.), Wolf Prize in mathematics Vol. 2 (River Edge, NJ, 2001).

Other Web site:

The Wolf foundation

Index of Societies, honours, etc.
Main index Biographies Index

JOC/EFR October 2016

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