Stony Brook University Professor Awarded Inaugural "Breakthrough Prize" in Mathematics

Sir Simon Donaldson one of five to receive $3 million prize financed by Yuri Milner, a Russian investor, and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook

Released: 26-Jun-2014 5:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Stony Brook University
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Newswise — STONY BROOK, N.Y., June 26, 2014Sir Simon K. Donaldson, Professor of Mathematics in the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics(SCGP) and the Department of Mathematics and Professor of Pure Mathematics at Imperial College London, was selected to receive the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics, announced the Breakthrough Prize Foundation on Monday. Donaldson, a permanent member of the SCGP, was acknowledged for “the new revolutionary invariants of four-dimensional manifolds and for the study of the relation between stability in algebraic geometry and in global differential geometry, both for bundles and for Fano varieties.”

The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics rewards significant discoveries across the many branches of the subject. The prize was founded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Digital Sky Technologies founder Yuri Milner and announced at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony in December 2013. It aims to recognize major advances in the field; honor the world’s best mathematicians; support their future endeavors and communicate the excitement of mathematics to the general public.

“The Breakthrough Prize is a recognition that is well deserved for Sir Simon Donaldson, a celebrated mathematician and visionary,” said Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. M.D., President of Stony Brook University. “It also is a mark of distinction for the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics and more generally for our Department of Mathematics, which continues to provide our students with an education of the highest order.”

“This is a great honor and my family and I are delighted; we are still adjusting to the news,” said Donaldson. “We plan to use some of the prize to help mathematics in a developing country.”

Sir Donaldson received his B.A. in Mathematics from Pembroke College of Cambridge University in 1979 and his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 1983. In 1986 he was awarded the Fields Medal for his work in the geometry and topology of 4-dimensional manifolds, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was awarded the Crafoord Prize in Mathematics in 1994 and elected a foreign member of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2000. In 2006 he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for his work in mathematical theories linked to physics. In 2009, he was awarded the Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences for his work in conjunction with Clifford H. Taubes “for their many contributions to geometry in three and four dimensions.” In 2010 he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and in 2012 he was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to mathematics, and elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

Donaldson was one of five mathematicians selected; others to receive the Breakthrough Prize are Maxim Kontsevich, Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques; Jacob Lurie, Harvard University; Terence Tao, University of California, Los Angeles and Richard Taylor, Institute for Advanced Study. The Laureates will be presented with their trophies and $3 million each at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony in November.

All five recipients of the Prize have agreed to serve on the Selection Committee, responsible for choosing subsequent winners of the prize from the pool of contenders nominated by the mathematics community. In 2015 and thereafter, one Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics will be awarded annually.

"Mathematics is essential for driving human progress and innovation in this century,” said Mark Zuckerberg. “This year’s Breakthrough Prize winners have made huge contributions to the field and we’re excited to celebrate their efforts.”

“Mathematics is the most fundamental of the sciences – the language they are all written in,” said Yuri Milner. “The best mathematical minds benefit us all by expanding the sphere of human knowledge.”

About the Breakthrough Prizes
The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. The prizes aim to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career.
Laureates of each prize are chosen by its respective Selection Committee, comprising previous recipients of the prize.

Online Nominations: 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences and Fundamental Physics
Online nominations are now open for the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences and Fundamental Physics, and can be submitted untilJune 30. The nomination form and the rules are available at Any individual can submit an online nomination but self-nominations are not allowed. Each year, up to six Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences are awarded. The prize honors transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life. One prize per year is for work contributing to the understanding of Parkinson's disease. Each laureate receives $3 million. The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the Universe. The winner receives $3 million, and the prize can be split between several scientists.

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