October's Mathematician of the Month: Grigori Perelman

grigori perelmanDid you know that...

  • He was born in Russia in 1966. His father was an electrical engineer, who challenged him with brain teasers. (Susane)
  • He also taught him to think logically by playing chess. (Mathilda)
  • His mother was a math teacher. His family was Jewish. (Susane)
  • His mother enrolled him in an after school math club. His sister Elena also became a mathematician and has a PhD in science. (Mathilda)
  • At 14 he was the top achiever in his math club and at age 16 he won a gold medal with a perfect score at the International Mathematical Olympiad in Budapest. (Susane)
  • He was a perfectionist, who rarely made mistakes. (Mathilda)
  •  At 16 he entered Leningrad State University. (Susane)
  • He was quickly placed in advanced geometry. (Michaella)
  • He received a PhD in mathematics and mechanics. (Boubacar)
  • He won the Young Mathematician Prize of the St. Petersburg Mathematical Soceity in 1991. (Kaydian)
  • He had several tics: humming and moaning when he was engrossed in a problem. (Mathilda)
  • During the period he must have made his key discoveries, he never told anybody what he was working on. (Michaella)
  • In 1993 he was offered a Miller research fellowship for 2 years at the University of California. (Mathilda)
  • He has visited many universities to share his knowledge with young people. (Boubacar)
  • He solved the Pointcaré conjecture, which was one of the most fundamental problems in the field of mathematics. (Susane)kreukel
  • Numerous proofs have been suggested and quickly discarded since 1904. In 2002 he posted his proof online. (Michaella)
  • The journal ‘Science’ acknowledged his proof as the ‘breakthrough of the year’ (Boubacar)
  • In 2005, he was awarded the Fields medal, the most prestigious prize in Mathematics, for his contributions to geometry. (Susane/Michaella)  His contributions were in the fields of Riemannian geometry and geometric topology. (Michael)
  • He declined this medal stating: ‘I am not interested in money or fame; I do not want to be on display like an animal in a zoo.’ (Susane)
  • He was the first mathematician ever to decline this medal. (Michaella). He then quit his job at the Steklov Institute. (Mathilda)  He seems to have retired from mathematical research (Michaella)
  • The Pointcaré conjecture was one of the millennium problems (Michael). The "Millenium problems' are 7 problems, stated by the Clay Institute, which in 2000 were thought to be unsolvable. (Mathilda) There is a million dollar prize for anyone solving one of these problems (Michael) 
  • In 2010 he declined this prize too. (Susane) He thought the prize to be unfair, and his contribution to solving the Pointcaré conjecture not greater than that of Richard Hamilton (Michael)
  • Perelman succeeds in avoiding journalists. (Mathilda) Only once did he explain his declination to a journalist: ‘I know how to control the universe. So tell me, why should I run for a million?’ Without further explanation he then walked away (Kaydian). manifold 001
  • Masha Gessen published a book about him, without meeting him in person, titled Perfect Rigor: A Genius and the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century. In 2011 a documentary about him and his work was released titled "A Man Following a Different Path: A Lesson from Perelman" (Mathilda)
  • Aleksandr Zabrocski has plans to shoot a film about him, directed by Hollywood director James Cameron (Mathilda)
  • He is seen as one of the best mathematicians of this century (Boubacar)
  • Relatives call him apart, difficult, complex and a loner. Now he lives completely isolated from the world (Mathilda)