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Braverman and Lieb win mathematics prizes for cross-discpline work

Princeton professors Elliott Lieb and Mark Braverman are among those honored today for significant contributions to mathematics and fellow fields at the International Mathematical Union (IMU) in Helsinki, Finland.

Lieb, Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics, Emeritus, and Professor of Mathematical Physics, Emeritus, was awarded the Carl Friedrich Gauss Prize for “in-depth mathematical contributions of exceptional breadth shaping the fields of quantum mechanics , statistical mechanics, computational chemistry and quantum information theory. ”

Braverman, a professor of computer science, was awarded the Abacus Medal for “his research that breaks down the path that develops the theory of information complexity, a framework for using information theory to argue about protocols in communication. “

The awards were announced during the same ceremony where Princeton math professor June Huh was awarded the Fields Medal, often called the “Nobel Prize in mathematics.”

Wide applications


The Gauss prize received by Lieb, named for German mathematician and physicist and simultaneously awarded by the German Mathematical Union (DMV), recognizes outstanding mathematical contributions that have found significant applications outside the field. Lieb is honored for his contributions to physics, chemistry and pure mathematics.

“Recalling Gauss and other giants of the 18th and 19th centuries, Elliott H. Lieb, driven by the problems of and applications of physics, dismantled the elegant and fundamental structures of mathematics, which much beyond the original motivations, ”the IMU citation said. “In doing so, Lieb introduces concepts that shape the entire field of mathematical research even beyond its original area, while having a transformative impact on physics and chemistry.”

At the award ceremony, viewers watched a video in which Lieb discussed his career and summarized his research.

“Elliott Lieb has been a leading figure in mathematical physics for the past 70 years,” said Igor Rodnianski, professor and chairman of the Department of Mathematics, Lieb’s home department. mathematical physics, including quantum mechanics, statistical physics, computational chemistry and so on.

“Duban with his impact on mathematical physics, analysis and algebra, Elliott Lieb has directly and indirectly influenced, shaped and guided several generations of mathematical physicists. We congratulate Elliott on this highly deserved award,” he said. and Rodnianski.

“Elliott is a legend,” said Herman Verlinde, chairman of the Department of Physics. “Throughout his long career, Elliott has had a remarkable ability to ask basic questions about general physical systems and find pretty exact results about them, often before it is commonly recognized that it is questions are important.

“While thinking about physical problems, he discovered rich and unexpected new mathematical structures, and his rigorous mathematical results greatly affected all aspects of theoretical science, including “latest developments in condensed matter physics, quantum information science, statistical mechanics and quantum chemistry. It is a real privilege that he is a partner,” said Verlinde, who is also the Class of 1909 Professor of Physics.

Lieb said it was a surprise and joy to receive the Gauss award. In November he received a Medal from the Erwin Schrödinger Institute for Mathematics and Physics, and in January received the APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research from the American Physical Society.

Initially wanting to become an electrical engineer, Lieb decided to pursue physics in his first year as an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He graduated in 1953. Three years later, he received his Ph.D. in mathematical physics from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

His career took him to IBM, where he met young colleagues who wanted to go into physics “with a mathematical slant.” He transferred to several universities, including Northeastern and MIT, and came to Princeton in 1975, eventually moving to emeritus status in 2017 but continuing his work.

“I’m working on a role right now,” he said.


Award for information science

Braverman was the first recipient of the Abacus Medal, which honors outstanding achievements in the mathematical aspects of information science. The Abacus award is a continuation of the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize awarded from 1982 to 2018.

“Mark Braverman led the development of information complexity theory, the interactive analogue of Shannon’s information theory,” his citation said. “In addition to his work on information complexity, Braverman has made contributions in various areas of the interface of theoretical computer science and mathematical sciences.”

Braverman, whose work focuses on theoretical computer science and its connections to other disciplines, said the Abacus Medal is a great honor for himself and his research team. He added that it was “a huge responsibility on the field in the future.”

IMU played a video profiling Braverman in which his children were shown illustrating the principles of some of his work.

Braverman was born in Russia when it was part of the Soviet Union. His family moved to Israel and then to Canada. He received a bachelor of arts in mathematics and computer science from Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology) in 2001. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Toronto in 2008. After spending two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Microsoft Research New England laboratory and one year on the faculty at the University of Toronto, he joined the Princeton faculty in 2011 and was promoted to perfectly. professor in 2015.

“Mark’s list of accomplishments is impressive,” said Jennifer Rexford, chair of the Computer Science Department, noting the many awards Braverman has received since winning a gold medal at the Math Olympiad at age 16.

“Our modern network life relies on communication protocols that allow multiple computers to work together to calculate answers to important questions,” Rexford said. “Mark’s agile research lays the foundations for understanding how multiple parties can work together effectively – minimizing the amount of information they need to share to complete their work.”

Rexford, who is also Gordon YS Wu Professor of Engineering and a professor of computer science, noted that Princeton’s computer science department has a long history of computer foundation research. “With the growing role of computer science in every discipline and every human endeavor, pushing the boundaries of the field is more important than ever,” he said.

Liz Fuller-Wright contributed to this story.

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