Another guesswork

[Edit, may  4, 2013: to anyone reading this, please note that it was posted on july 11, 2012, and I closed comments on december 31, 2012 to avoid further anonymous comments. Also, it appears I had forgotten Sylvia Serfaty as EMS prize winner still eligible, so I’ve just repaired that.]

[Second edit, may 3, 2014: Vincent Lafforgue has recently added a cv on his website showing he is also eligible.]

Now that the dust has settled on the EMS prizes, let’s see if predicting the 2014 Fields Medals (already now) is possible or not.

First, the age limit is that “a recipient’s 40th birthday must not occur before January 1 of the year in which the Fields Medal is awarded“, so that rules out anyone born before january 1, 1974. And those born after january 1, 1978 will have another opportunity in 2018, so perhaps they have less priority.

Also, the medal obviously rewards work published (or at least accepted for publication) before the comittee decides, so that means spring 2014. And so, given the time it takes for a paper to be peer-reviewed (say 3 to 6 months for a short but breakthrough one, and 12 to 18 for a longer one), that means the 2014 medals will probably recognize work submited at the very lastest around september 2013 (short papers) or january 2013 (long papers).

So, anybody aged between 34 and 38 today, and who have no research accomplishments yet, have about 6 months to a year to prove one of the remaining Clay Millenium Problems 🙂

Since that’s not quite realistic, having a look at a list of people who have already been distinguished is a better bet. Here are those that I’ve found who were born between january 1, 1974 and january 1, 1978 (omitting multiple counts):

EMS prize winners: Alexei Borodin, Ben Green, Assaf Naor, Laure Saint-Raymond, Emmanuel Breuillard, Mathieu Lewin, Sylvia Serfaty, Vincent Lafforgue

Clay Research Fellows: Maryam Mirzakhani, Soren Galatius, Maria Chudnovsky, Daniel Biss, Manjul Bhargava

SASTRA Ramanujan prize winners: Kathrin Bringmann

Whitehead prize winners: Timothy Browning, Martin Hairer, Harald Helfgott, Alexander Gorodnik

Of course, the Fields comittee may well decide to reward several younger ones, and pick just one or two among those above…

If I had to bet at this point in time, I’d say Bhargava and Galatius appear to be very strong candidates from those lists, but lots can happen in the meantime.

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8 Responses to “Another guesswork”

  1. pundit Says:

    My guesses for 2014:

    1) Avila (probability: 75%)

    Pros: over the last 10 years has published more papers in the “top five” journals — i.e., Acta, Annals, Inventiones, IHES, and JAMS — journals than just about anybody else (as far as I know only Tao beats him here). Research bridges two fields (dynamics and mathematical physics).

    Cons: has two more cycles of eligibility

    2) Bhargava (probability: 50%)

    Pros: His PhD thesis produced a bunch of papers in Annals; continues o produce high-impact research; full professor at Princeton at a very early age; last cycle of elegibility.

    Cons: none that I know of

    3) Lurie (probability: 40%)

    Pros: very very ambitious research program (he´s trying to recast algebraic geometry); work spans many fields; full professor at Harvard at very young age; last cycle of elegibility

    Cons: unless he proves something dramatic over the next year and a half or so, his program may be seen as too abstract — people not steeped in category theory sometimes accuse Lurie of not having proved “new, concrete” theorems.

  2. guess Says:

    Daniel Biss quit math after two of his high-profile papers turned out to be wrong, so I would not really count him.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Sophie Morel has a very high probability of being awarded a medal this time or next time, making her the first woman to receive it. She is said by her advisor Gerard Laumon (who directed Lafforgue and NGO bau Chau thesis) to be his best student.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I think Marianna Cszornei has a chance too.
    And Ben Green.

  5. pundit Says:

    Anonymous: Ben Green is certainly an excellent mathematician, but a very well-informed and very senior researcher once told me that Green is viewed as “too Tao-dependent” to be awarded a Fields.

    And indeed, a naive analysis of his publication list (at seems to support that theory:

    1) Green has published a (very impressive) total of 8 papers in “top 5” journals (i.e., Annals, Acta, IHES, Inventiones, and JAMS).

    2) Of these 8 papers, the most recent 6 were coauthored with Tao.

  6. pundit Says:

    Anonymous (regarding your comment from December 18 at 6:44pm):

    I checked out Sophie Morel (who was not on my radar) and I agree with you: she looks like a strong candidate to become the first female winner of the Fields, in either 2014 or 2018 (when she will be 39 years old).

  7. pundit Says:

    So here are my updated (and of course very subjetive) probability estimates for 2014:

    1) Avila (probability: 60%)

    Pros: over the last 10 years has published more papers in the “top five” journals — i.e., Acta, Annals, Inventiones, IHES, and JAMS — journals than just about anybody else (as far as I know only Tao beats him here). Research bridges two fields (dynamics and mathematical physics). He clearly is, at this point in time, the best dynamicist in the world.

    Cons: has two more cycles of eligibility

    2) Sophie Morel (probability: 50%)

    Pros: has done brilliant research in a very high-prestige area (the Langlands program); full professor at Harvard at 30; is female

    Cons: has two more cycles of eligibility

    2) Bhargava (probability: 40%)

    Pros: His PhD thesis produced a bunch of papers in Annals; continues to produce high-impact research; full professor at Princeton at a very early age; last cycle of elegibility.

    Cons: none that I know of

    3) Lurie (probability: 30%)

    Pros: very very ambitious research program (he´s trying to recast the foundations of algebraic geometry); work spans many fields; full professor at Harvard at very young age; last cycle of elegibility

    Cons: unless he proves something dramatic over the next year or so, his program may be seen as “too abstract” — people not steeped in category theory often accuse Lurie of not having proved “new, concrete” theorems.

    4) Green (probability: 15%)

    Pros: brilliant research in additive combinatorics (remark: I don´t really know what “additive combinatorics” is, but since it has yielded high-prestige results in number theory I´ll rate it as a “medium-prestige area” despite being combinatorial); full professor at Cambridge at early age; last cycle of eligibility

    Cons: most of his his main results might be seen as too dependent on his coauthorships with Tao (who for obvious reasons tends to be seen as the senior coauthor of pretty much anything he writes)

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