Newswise — Louis Nirenberg, a professor emeritus at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, has been awarded the Abel Prize in Mathematics by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for his work in the area of partial differential equations.

Nirenberg shares this year’s Abel Prize with Princeton University’s John Nash, the subject of the 2001 film “A Beautiful Mind”.

In its announcement, the Academy cited Nirenberg and Nash for their “striking and seminal contributions to the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations and its applications to geometric analysis.”

“Nash and Nirenberg influenced each other through their contributions and interactions,” the Academy added. “The consequences of their fruitful dialogue, which they initiated in the 1950s at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, are felt more strongly today than ever before.”

Partial differential equations describe the basic laws governing phenomenain physics, chemistry, biology, and other sciences.

The two are expected to receive the Abel Prize from His Majesty, King Harald V of Norway, in Oslo on May 19. The honor includes a prize of approximately $760,000, which will be split between this year’s winners.

This is the fourth time in 10 years that an NYU Courant mathematician has been the recipient of the Abel Prize, considered by many to be the Nobel Prize for mathematics. In addition, NYU has more Abel winners than any other institution. Professor Peter Lax was awarded the Abel in 2005, Professor Srinivasa S.R.Varadhan was selected in 2007, and Professor Mikhail Leonidovich Gromov won the prize in 2009.

NYU President John Sexton said, “It is a source of great pride to the NYU community not only to be able to count among our Courant Institute faculty a fourth recipient of the Abel Prize, but also a second Courant graduate. I know I speak for everyone when I congratulate Professor Nirenberg on this exceptional recognition of his brilliant scholarship.”

Nirenberg, who received the National Medal of Science in 1995, has been widely recognized for contributions to the modern theory of partial differential equations and related aspects of complex analysis and geometry—the basic mathematical tools of modern science.

Nirenberg was born on February 28, 1925, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He received a bachelor’s degree from Montreal’s McGill University in 1945 and an M.S. (1947) and Ph.D. (1949) from NYU. After spending his entire academic career at the Courant Institute, Nirenberg retired in 1999.

Nirenberg has received several awards and honors, notably the American Mathematical Society’s Bôcher Prize in 1959, the Jeffrey-Williams Prize of the Canadian Mathematical Society in 1987, and the Steele Prize of the AMS in 1994 for Lifetime Achievement. In 1982, Nirenberg was the first recipient in mathematics of the Crafoord Prize, established by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in areas not covered by the Nobel Prizes. He shared the award with Vladimir Arnold. In 2010, Nirenberg received the inaugural Chern Medal, given by the International Mathematical Union and the Chern Medal Foundation.

For more on Nirenberg’s life and contributions, please view the video created by the Simons Foundation:

About NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences:New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences is a leading center for research and education. Established under the leadership of Richard Courant in 1935, the Courant Institute has contributed to U.S. and international science and engineering by promoting an integrated view of mathematics and computer science. The Institute is engaged in broad research activities, applying these disciplines to problems in biology, chemistry, physics, economics, and atmosphere-ocean science. The Courant Institute has played a central role in the development of applied mathematics, analysis, and computer science, and is comprised of a faculty which has received numerous national and international awards in recognition of their extraordinary research accomplishments. For more information please visit

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