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2010 Abel Prize

John Tate

Just by chance, I went to the website of the American Mathematical Society tonight and thereby stumbled on the news (which I would have learned soon enough) announced earlier today that John Tate is the 2010 recipient of the Abel Prize. The prize, established in 2001 by the Norwegian government, has been awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters each year since 2003 to one or two outstanding mathematicians. It is named in honor of the great, early-nineteenth-century Norwegian mathematician Niels Abel and may be regarded as the mathematical counterpart of Nobel Prizes.

I wrote about the Abel Prize last June, in the wake of an article that week in the NYT reporting on the news that three of the recipients were NYU faculty members. As I noted at the time, according to the history of the Abel Prize given at their site, the idea for a math prize that would parallel the Nobel Prizes and be named after Abel goes back to 1899, when it was championed by that other great Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie.

John Tate spent much of his career at Harvard, later moving to the University of Texas. The award is being given to him “for his vast and lasting impact on the theory of numbers.” You can read more about today’s announcement here and here.

I didn’t take a course from Tate when I was an undergraduate, but I wasn’t so foolish as to miss out on the opportunity altogether. During my third year in graduate school, I made it a point to attend his graduate number theory course, walking down to the Harvard Science Center from my apartment three mornings a week before heading over to MIT. Great course.

Categories: Math
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