The “Nobel Prize in Mathematics” awarded to a Ukrainian scholar. She is the second woman in history
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The “Nobel Prize in Mathematics” awarded to a Ukrainian scholar. She is the second woman in history

She solved the “orange merchant problem” that has plagued mathematicians since the 16th century. The award was presented in Helsinki due to the war in Ukraine

One of the 4 Fields Medals was awarded to the Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska, of the Polytechnic University of Lausanne, it is the world’s greatest recognition for mathematics, similar to the Nobel.

Viazovska is the second woman to win the coveted prize established in 1936 and which is awarded by the International Mathematical Union every 4 years.

Before her, in 2014, Iranian Maryam Mirzakhani, who died of cancer three years later, was the first woman to win the Fields Medal.

Maryam Mirzakhani, first woman to receive the Fildes Medal in 2014

Hugo Duminil-Copin of the University of Geneva, James Maynard, of the University of Oxford and June Huh, of Princeton, in the United States were also awarded with Maryna Viazovska.

The award, consisting of a gold medal and a reward of 15,000 Canadian dollars, celebrates the “exceptional discoveries” of researchers under 40. The announcement was made during a ceremony in Helsinki as part of the International Congress of Mathematicians. It was originally supposed to be held in St. Petersburg in Russia, but was moved to Helsinki due to the war in Ukraine.

Maryna Vyazovska Fields Medal 2022

Maryna Viazovska born 37 years ago in Ukraine, at the time in the Soviet Union is the second woman to win the award in 80 years of history.

Since 2017 she has been teaching at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland.

During the invasion of Ukraine, she said in February: “My life has changed forever”.

Mathematics received the reward – decided before the war – for solving a version of a centuries-old problem, that of the compact stacking of spheres. This “orange merchant problem” has plagued mathematicians since the 16th century.

“Mathematicians had been bothering about the problem for several decades, even the greatest specialists had given up,” Renaud Coulangeon, professor at the University of Bordeaux, told AFP. Maryna Viazovska succeeded in a “tour de force” by finding “the magic proof”.

The solution to this problem is useful for example for telecommunication signal error correction codes.