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U.S. Institute Awards $1M to Reclusive Mathematician

Plus.maths.orgPerelman

A private U.S. institute has awarded $1 million to a low-profile Russian mathematician who rejected the world's highest honor in the field in 2006.

It was not immediately clear whether Grigory Perelman, a 43-year-old native of St. Petersburg, would accept the award. Perelman has avoided journalists for several years.

The Clay Mathematics Institute, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, honored Perelman for proving a mathematical theorem known as the Poincare conjecture, the institute said in a statement published on its web site late last week.

CMI president James Carlson praised Perelman's work on the Poincare conjecture as "a major advance in the history of mathematics" that "brings to a close the century-long quest for the solution" and "will long be remembered."

The conjecture, formulated in 1904 by French mathematician Henri Poincare, essentially says that in three dimensions you cannot transform a doughnut shape into a sphere without ripping it, although any shape without a hole can be stretched or shrunk into a sphere, The Associated Press reported in 2006.

Perelman announced a proof of the Poincare conjecture in a series of preprints posted on ArXiv.org in 2002 and 2003, CMI's web site said.

In August 2006, Perelman turned down a Fields Medal from the International Mathematical Union for his work in topology, which studies shapes, and for a breakthrough that might help scientists figure out the shape of the universe.

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