Math Genius to The Fields Medal: No, Thanks!

Russian mathematics genius Grigory Perelman won The Fields Medal (the "Nobel prize of math" as Alfred Nobel failed to include a math category, complete with $1 million award) for solving one of the hardest math problems ever: the Poincare conjecture [wiki].

But the Russian recluse - who still lives with his mother - said thanks, but no thanks, and declined the award!

John Ball, retiring president of the International Mathematical Union, said he had travelled to St Petersburg to meet Perelman in person to try to understand his reasons for declining the award.

Professor Ball said he had spoken to Perelman of personal experiences with the mathematical community during his career that had caused him to remain at a distance.

"However, I am unable to disclose these comments in public," he said, adding: "He has a different psychological make up, which makes him see life differently."

Manuel de Leon, chairman of the ICM said: "The reason Perelman gave me is that he feels isolated from the mathematical community and therefore has no wish to appear as one of its leaders."


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That brings the count of Russians that are either unable to accept or simply decline the Fields Medal to four. Monetarily, the Fields is paltry (some $14,000). Mr. Perelman will likely be awarded at least some portion of one of the Millennium Prizes ($1,000,000) offered by the Clay Mathematics Institute. It is conjectured that Mr. Perelman will decline this as well.

John Forbes Nash (A Beautiful Mind) pined mightily over not being awarded the Fields Medal and over not being portrayed alone on the cover of Fortune Magazine. By contrast, Perleman has previously turned down a prestigious prize from the "European Mathematical Society, allegedly saying that he felt the prize committee was unqualified to assess his work (even positively)." [wiki]

These mathematicians can be sensitive.
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