Great honor for Israel: Professor Elon Lindenstrauss from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Einstein Institute of Mathematics has been awarded the prestigious Fields Medal for 2010.
"The feeling is a little odd, I'm not used to speaking to journalists. No doubt, speaking before the cameras is an interesting experience," Lindenstrauss told Ynet after his achievement was announced.
The medal, dubbed "mathematics' Nobel Prize," is the world's most important math prize. It is awarded once every four years to researchers aged 40 years or under.
Lindenstrauss will receive the prize along with three other mathematicians at the International Mathematical Union congress in India. The prize will be awarded by Indian President Pratibha Patil.
Great honor for Israel - Lindenstrauss (Photo: Sasson Tiram)
"I've known about the award for six months, but I was told to keep it a secret so I did," Lindenstrauss told Ynet. "However, in Israel it's very hard to keep a secret, and for a while now I've been receiving well-wishes."
Lindenstrauss said that wining the prize is a "great responsibility" and added that he was surprised to win it.
"It's an exceptional feeling. I know many brilliant, exceptional mathematicians…it's very surprising to be chosen out of all these brilliant minds," he said. "I received the award for a series of projects, some of them undertaken with partners. One of the joys here is the ability join forces with other mathematicians; this is one of the things I love most about this field."
The prize is named after John Charles Fields, a mathematician and philosopher at Toronto University. Fields donated the prize and drew up the criteria which differentiate it from the Nobel: The winner must prove significant mathematical achievements and show potential for the future.
Prof. Alex Lubotzky, Lindenstrauss' colleague from the Einstein Institute, said the Israeli winner he had been awarded the prize for work that uses probabilistic and dynamic systems for solving problems in number theory.
"There is a broad Israeli component in Lindenstrauss' mathematics, and his work uses methods developed by Israeli researchers from the Hebrew University," Lubotzky said.
Lindenstrauss (40), a Jerusalem resident, is a graduate of the Air Force's elite Talpiot program, holds the rank of major (res.) and was even awarded the highly-regarded Israel Defense Prize. He has a math and physics undergraduate degree and a masters and doctorate in mathematics from the Hebrew University. After receiving his doctorate, he became a member of Princeton's Institute of Advanced Study and in 2008 received a professorship at the Hebrew University.
His father is Yoram Lindenstrauss, professor emeritus at the Einstein Institute. His uncle is Israel's State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.
This is not the first time Lindenstrauss has been awarded prestigious prizes. He won the Haim Nessyahu Prize in Mathematics for his doctoral research, the Salem Prize for young mathematicians in 2004, the European Mathematical Union prize in 2004, the Erdos Prize of the Israel Mathematical Union for 2009, and the Fermat Prize for Mathematics of the Toulouse Mathematics Institute.
"Israel is a mathematical power, but till now no Israeli researcher had won this prize," said Hebrew University President Professor Menachem Ben-Sasson. "The 40 year age limitation is certainly an obstacle for young researchers who are compelled to start their academic lives relatively late because of army service. However, Lindenstrauss proves that the talented among the world's scientists can cope even with this obstacle."