Sunday, June 29, 2014

3000 lunches

Last week fortune smiled on two of my friends:

  1. Ken Regan made the cover of Chess Life for his work on catching chess cheaters. (See here.)
  2. Jacob Lurie who I mentored when he was a high school student 1993-1995 won $3,000,000 for doing pure math. I am not kidding. See here and here. and here.  This is a relatively new award called the breakthrough prize.
The breakthrough prize started a few years ago in Life Sciences and Fundamental Physics (not sure what they mean-possibly Mathematical Physics or Theoretical Physics). This is the first year it is given for Mathematics. The other winners of the Breathrough prize in math are  Simon Donaldson, Maxim Kontsevich, Terence Tao, and Richard Taylor.

$3,000,000 is the largest amount of money for prizes of this sort (the Nobel is a paltry  $1,200,000).  Even so, I had not heard of the award until there was a math one. I wonder if it will become a household name like the Nobel has.

A few weeks ago I told my student Tucker, who is going to Digipen- a 4-year college with a BIG emphasis on programming computer games- that he is more likely to become a millionaire then my student Sam who is going to CMU to study pure math. I could be wrong.

 I taught Jacob lots of recursion theory and he won the Westinghouse Award with a paper on Recursive Surreal Numbers; however, the work was all his own and didn't use much of what I taught him.  After that I made a policy that for every $1000 a high school student of mine wins I get a free lunch.  I emailed Jacob- and while he's not sure he'll give me 3000 lunches, he will treat me to lunch next time I am in Boston.

To quote the article, he won it for

Foundations of higher category theory and derived algebraic geometry for the classification of fully extended topological quantum field theories; and for providing a moduli-theoretic interpretation of elliptic co-homology.

I know what some of those words mean.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats to Ken and Jacob! (By the way, this doesn't read like one of your posts, without the capital letters and misspellings :))