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The Abel Prize for 2011 

His Majesty King Harald will present the prestigious Abel Prize to John Willard Milnor today, for his “pioneering discoveries in topology, geometry and algebra”. Earlier today the King granted the Abel Laureate an audience at the Royal Palace.


The Abel Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for scientific excellence in the field of mathematics. This year’s laureate, John Milnor, is a professor at the Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Stony Brook University in New York.

The Abel Committee’s citation

In its citation the committee points out Professor Milnor’s significant contributions to topology, differential geometry, algebra, and dynamical systems. The committee also emphasises his talent as a communicator in his field:

“Milnor is a wonderfully gifted expositor of sophisticated mathematics. He has often tackled difficult, cutting-edge subjects, where no account in book form existed. Adding novel insights, he produced a stream of timely yet lasting works of masterly lucidity. Like an inspired musical composer who is also a charismatic performer, John Milnor is both a discoverer and an expositor.”

John Milnor has made an indelible mark on modern mathematics, and a number of mathematical terms bear his name.

Award ceremony at Gamle Logen 

His Majesty King Harald will present the award in a formal ceremony at the historic Gamle Logen banquet and concert hall in Oslo, which begins at 2:00 pm today. President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Professor Øyvind Østerud, will give the opening speech, and Chairman of the Abel Committee, Professor Ragni Piene, will expand on the committee’s citation.

Audience and wreath-laying ceremony

In keeping with tradition, King Harald granted the Abel Laureate an audience at the Royal Palace earlier today. It is also traditional for the Abel Laureate to lay a wreath at the Niels Henrik Abel monument. The monument, sculpted by Gustav Vigeland, stands on Abel knoll in the Palace Park, and Professor Milnor laid a wreath there on Monday afternoon.

This evening the King will attend the banquet at Akershus Fortress hosted by the Government in honour of the Abel Laureate.

The Abel Prize

The Abel Prize is an international award for scientific excellence in the field of mathematics. The prize seeks to enhance the status of mathematics within society at large and heighten interest in the field among children and young people. The prize of NOK 6 million was awarded for the first time in 2003.

The prize is named in honour of the mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, who during his short life developed several theories instrumental to the development of the field. Abel died of tuberculosis in 1829, a few months before his 27th birthday.

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