Languages
Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Russian maths genius Perelman urged to take $1m prize

Grigory Perelman (undated photo)
The Soviet-born mathematician once taught at colleges in the US

Russian maths genius Grigory Perelman, who declined a prestigious international award four years ago, is under new pressure to accept a prize.

A US institute wants to give him $1m (£700,000) for solving one of the world's most complex mathematical problems, the Poincare Conjecture.

But it is unclear whether Dr Perelman, a virtual recluse, will pick it up.

A children's charity in St Petersburg, where he lives, has urged him to take the money and give it to charity.

Dr Perelman, 43, has cut himself off from the outside world for the past four years, living with his elderly mother in a tiny flat said by neighbours to be infested with cockroaches.

In an open letter on its website, the Warm Home charity called on Dr Perelman to give the cash equivalent of the US Clay Mathematics Institute's $1m Millennium Prize to Russian charities.

It suggested that the mathematician had already made an ethical point by turning down the Fields Medal, the world's highest prize in mathematics, in 2006.

Appeal for privacy

The mathematician is reported to have said "I have all I want" when contacted by a reporter this week about the Clay Millennium Prize.

Grigory Perelman at a maths lecture in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) in 1980
Grigory Perelman already won maths accolades as a teenager

According to the UK's Daily Mail newspaper, he was speaking through the closed door of his flat.

Dr Perelman was the first person to turn down the Fields Medal, which would have been presented to him at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid.

"I'm not interested in money or fame," he is quoted to have said at the time.

"I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo. I'm not a hero of mathematics. I'm not even that successful; that is why I don't want to have everybody looking at me."

One of Russia's most senior politicians, Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, has appealed for Dr Perelman to be left in peace to make up his own mind.

He suggested that it was "not very decent to look into other people's pockets and count other people's money", Russia's Interfax news agency reports.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Maths genius declines top prize
22 Aug 06 |  Science & Environment
Great maths puzzle 'solved'
07 May 03 |  Science & Environment
Prize for 'big picture' mathematicians
20 Aug 02 |  Science/Nature

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific