Abel Prize to Pierre Deligne

Just woke up to see that this year’s Abel Prize has gone to algebraic geometer and number theorist Pierre Deligne, who is one of the truly great figures in 20th century mathematics. Deligne first became well-known for his proof of the Weil Conjectures in the 1970s, and has had a long and and very fruitful career since then, much of it spent at the Institute in Princeton. While working mainly in a part of mathematics far from physics, he also has had a long history of interactions with physicists, participating in the IAS year-long program on QFT, and most recently getting involved in current research on amplitudes. An excellent choice, congratulations to him!.

See Tim Gowers’s blog for more, including his talk presenting Deligne’s work.

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18 Responses to Abel Prize to Pierre Deligne

  1. cims conf says:

    The Courant Institute is hosting a one-day conf tomorrow for the Abel Prize.

    Courant’s three Abel laureates will speak. Will you go?

  2. Peter Woit says:

    cims conf,

    That was a few weeks ago (Feb. 21, not March 21). Didn’t hear about it until the day after. This week is Spring Break and everyone (except me…) has left town.

  3. El-Coco says:

    I was pretty surprised (as I am every year) that Terry Tao didn’t win.

  4. Peter Woit says:


    You have to realize that this prize was only started in 2002. In some sense they’re now in the process of working their way through the list of all the great figures of 20th century mathematics who are still alive. It’s now (intentionally I think) kind of an opposite of the Fields Medal, which was designed to reward and encourage young people still early in their careers.

    Looking at the list, no one younger than mid-sixties has gotten the Abel. If Tao remains in good health, I’d predict he’ll sooner or later get the prize, but it may take a while…

  5. opp says:

    Jean Pierre Serre (2003), Michael Atiyah (2004), John Griggs Thompson (2008), John Milnor (2010) and now Pierre Deligne (2013) are all Fields Medalists, so one hypothesizes that the Abel is to encourage FM winners to keep working and not goof off in their old age?

  6. Peter Woit says:


    This kind of gives some good data on what fraction of great mathematicians get the Fields Medal (5/13). Reasons for not getting the Fields Medal include doing ones best work when not young and having the misfortune to be of around the same age as several other great mathematicians (so missing out on the Field during the typical narrow time-window people are good candidates for it).

  7. jin says:

    Who got 2013 fundamental physics prize?

  8. tg says:

    Technically it’s Tim Gowers. So it’s Gowers’ blog not Gower’s blog.

  9. Peter Woit says:

    Announcement coming up soon, see


    Thanks, fixed.

  10. anon says:

    If you go to the blog, you will find that it is (correctly) Gowers’s blog.

  11. MathPhys says:

    Deligne deserves two Abel prizes. One for his mathematics and one for his character. Very well deserved.

  12. Bob Jones says:

    “Deligne deserves two Abel prizes. One for his mathematics and one for his character.”

    Grothendieck would disagree with you.

  13. Ray says:

    @Peter It’s funny how the year long course on QFT & Strings simply becomes course on QFT for you.

  14. Peter Woit says:

    OK, fixed the fix.

    “A program in Quantum Field Theory for mathematicians was held at the Institute for Advanced study during the academic year 1996-97.”

  15. Ray says:

    The AMS published book is called “Quantum Fields and Strings: A Course For Mathematicians”. Let’s not forget Eric d’Hoker’s celebrated string theory course was a part of the year-long program as well.

  16. Bob Jones says:

    Gaitsgory’s notes in that volume are very nice too.

  17. Peter Woit says:

    Bob Jones,

    That may be a minority opinion… I don’t think I’ve previously heard of anyone being able to understand Gaitsgory’s notes. It’s amusing that your and Ray’s comments came in next to each other. I forget who I heard this from, and it’s probably 2nd or 3rd hand and not accurate, but someone told me that Gaitsgory was originally the one writing up notes for d’Hoker’s lectures. This led to a problem though when the lecturer himself could not understand the notes of his own lectures, so decided he had to write up his own. Again, take that story with a grain of salt, but still…

  18. Bob Jones says:

    To be honest, I should admit that I also find Gaitsgory’s notes very hard to understand. But the topic of chiral algebras is something that I find very interesting, and I’ve spent a lot of time reading that section.

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