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Über dieses Buch

The book presents the winners of the Abel Prize in mathematics for the period 2013–17: Pierre Deligne (2013); Yakov G. Sinai (2014); John Nash Jr. and Louis Nirenberg (2015); Sir Andrew Wiles (2016); and Yves Meyer (2017).

The profiles feature autobiographical information as well as a scholarly description of each mathematician’s work. In addition, each profile contains a Curriculum Vitae, a complete bibliography, and the full citation from the prize committee.

The book also includes photos for the period 2003–2017 showing many of the additional activities connected with the Abel Prize.

As an added feature, video interviews with the Laureates as well as videos from the prize ceremony are provided at an accompanying website (

This book follows on The Abel Prize: 2003-2007. The First Five Years (Springer, 2010) and The Abel Prize 2008-2012 (Springer 2014), which profile the work of the previous Abel Prize winners.



Part I


Mathematical Autobiography

In what follows, I dwell on some major influences on my mathematical education. The account Luc Illusie gives of my work is much more systematic. I would like to begin by thanking him for it.

Pierre Deligne

Pierre Deligne: A Poet of Arithmetic Geometry

This is a report on the work of Pierre Deligne.

Luc Illusie

List of Publications for Pierre R. Deligne


Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Curriculum Vitae for Pierre R. Deligne


Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Part II



I was born on the 21st of September, 1935 in Moscow to a family of scientists. My mother, Nadezka Kagan, was a virologist. She worked on vaccines against encephalitis and died in November of 1938 after she became infected by the vaccine on which she was working. My father was a professor of microbiology in one of Moscow’s medical institutions. He participated in World War II working as an epidimeologist from 1941 through 1945. He married again in 1940, and my stepmother, E.N. Levkovich, was also a famous virologist.

Ya. G. Sinai

Sinai’s Dynamical System Perspective on Mathematical Fluid Dynamics

We review some of the most remarkable results obtained by Ya.G. Sinai and collaborators on the difficult problems arising in the theory of the Navier–Stokes equations and related models. The survey is not exhaustive, and it omits important results, such as those related to “Burgers turbulence”. Our main focus in on acquainting the reader with the application of the powerful methods of dynamical systems and statistical mechanics to this field, which is the main original feature of Sinai’s contribution.

Carlo Boldrighini, Dong Li


Light is what a newborn baby sees first. It is no wonder that people were always interested in light propagation. Fundamental laws were discovered through the centuries. However, it was Ya. G. Sinai who first laid the foundation for the study of global properties of light propagation in media which contain reflectors (scatterers, mirrors, etc) and obtained fundamental results in this area.

Leonid Bunimovich

Ya.G. Sinai’s Work on Number Theory

In this article we will survey some of the contributions of Ya.G. Sinai to number theory and related fields. The multifacetedness of his work demonstrates Ya.G. Sinai’s vision of mathematics as a highly interconnected discipline, rather than a series of compartmented fields.

F. Cellarosi

Entropy Theory of Dynamical Systems

This section is devoted to Sinai’s advances in the entropy theory of dynamical systems and to some developments of his ideas. A history of dynamical entropy is also represented. When describing several events of this history, author’s personal recollection is partially used.

B. Gurevich

Mathematical Physics

Sinai was never really far away from Mathematical Physics. Already his first papers on Kolmogorov–Sinai entropy and on the stability of Kolmogorov’s flow in 2D hydrodynamics (joint with L. Meshalkin, [19]) were very much in the areas which are closely related to Mathematical Physics. However, in his first research period, roughly in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, Sinai’s work was mostly concentrated around Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems. It is fair to say that his deep and lasting interest in Mathematical Physics started with his work on Statistical Mechanics in the late 1960s. This period culminated in the celebrated Pirogov–Sinai theory of phase transitions for ferromagnetic systems. After that Mathematical Physics was always one of the main themes of Sinai’s research. In general it was a period of very active interaction between mathematicians and physicists in the USSR.

Konstantin Khanin

Sinai’s Work on Markov Partitions and SRB Measures

Some principal contributions of Ya. Sinai to hyperbolic theory of dynamical systems, focusing mainly on constructions of Markov partitions and of Sinai–Ruelle–Bowen measures, are discussed. Some further developments in these directions stemming from Sinai’s work, are described.

Yakov Pesin

Further Developments of Sinai’s Ideas: The Boltzmann–Sinai Hypothesis

In this chapter we present a brief survey of the rich and manifold developments of Sinai’s ideas, dating back to 1963, concerning his exact mathematical formulation of Boltzmann’s original ergodic hypothesis. These developments eventually lead to the 2013 proof of the so called “Boltzmann-Sinai Ergodic Hypothesis”.

Nándor Simányi

Markov Approximations and Statistical Properties of Billiards

Markov partitions designed by Sinai (Funct Anal Appl 2:245–253, 1968) and Bowen (Am J Math 92:725–747, 1970) proved to be an efficient tool for describing statistical properties of uniformly hyperbolic systems. For hyperbolic systems with singularities, in particular for hyperbolic billiards the construction of a Markov partition by Bunimovich and Sinai (Commun Math Phys 78:247–280, 1980) was a delicate and hard task. Therefore later more and more flexible and simple variants of Markov partitions appeared: Markov sieves (Bunimovich–Chernov–Sinai, Russ Math Surv 45(3):105–152, 1990), Markov towers (Young, Ann Math (2) 147(3):585–650, 1998), standard pairs (Dolgopyat). This remarkable evolution of Sinai’s original idea is surveyed in this paper.

Domokos Szász

List of Publications for Yakov G. Sinai

On the distribution of the first positive sum for the sequence of independent random variables.

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Curriculum Vitae for Yakov Grigorevich Sinai

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Part III



My beginning as a legally recognized individual occurred on June 13, 1928 in Bluefield, West Virginia, in the Bluefield Sanitarium, a hospital that no longer exists. Of course I can’t consciously remember anything from the first 2 or 3 years of my life after birth. (And, also, one suspects, psychologically, that the earliest memories have become “memories of memories” and are comparable to traditional folk tales passed on by tellers and listeners from generation to generation.) But facts are available when direct memory fails for many circumstances.

John Forbes Nash, Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

John Nash, His Life

The life and work of John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Sylvia Nasar


I was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in 1925. My parents emigrated there from Ukraine, where my father was a Hebrew teacher. When my parents married they immediately crossed the border into Romania, illegally and were promptly arrested. Relatives managed to get them out of jail, and they slowly made their way across Europe, to Antwerp, Belgium, where they hoped to get immigration visas to the US. After a long time, during which my mother worked as a seamstress they decided to go to Canada, and my father continued teaching there.

Louis Nirenberg

The Masterpieces of John Forbes Nash Jr.

In this set of notes I follow Nash’s four groundbreaking works on real algebraic manifolds, on isometric embeddings of Riemannian manifolds and on the continuity of solutions to parabolic equations. My aim has been to stay as close as possible to Nash’s original arguments, but at the same time present them with a more modern language and notation. Occasionally I have also provided detailed proofs of the points that Nash leaves to the reader.

Camillo De Lellis

A Few of Louis Nirenberg’s Many Contributions to the Theory of Partial Differential Equations

Mathematics is the language of science, and partial differential equations are a crucial component: they provide the language we use to describe—and the tools we use to understand—phenomena in many areas including geometry, engineering, and physics.

Robert V. Kohn

List of Publications for John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

List of Publications for Louis Nirenberg

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Curriculum Vitae for John Forbes Nash, Jr.

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Curriculum Vitae for Louis Nirenberg

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Part IV


First Steps

I was born in a college room in Cambridge so my choice of profession was perhaps inevitable. My childhood was also spent in Cambridge except for the period from age two to six during which we lived in Nigeria. Apparently I resisted education at first, refusing to go to school for a whole term, but finally succumbed. Holidays then and later were spent on the estate and farm of a wonderful school that my maternal grandfather had created from nothing in Sussex.

Andrew Wiles

The Mathematical Works of Andrew Wiles

This paper surveys the published mathematical works of Andrew Wiles up through the time he was awarded the Abel Prize.

Christopher Skinner

List of Publications for Sir Andrew J. Wiles

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Curriculum Vitae for Sir Andrew John Wiles, KBE, FRS


Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Part V


For My Mother

My mother died thirty years ago from a stroke. Her life had been sad. Her marriage was a failure. My father never wished to live with us, even when I was a baby. I was born in 1939 and my sister, Danièle, in 1938. My father sold the pharmacy he was running at 17 boulevard du Temple, Paris, and he enrolled in the Army in 1944. He was assigned to the Hospital Pharmacy Department at Rabat, Morocco. My mother stayed a full year with us in Paris. She finally decided to take us to Rabat against the wish of my father. In Rabat, the three of us were living in a single room of a low-cost hotel. My father was working, living, and sleeping at the hospital. We were used to his absence.

Yves Meyer

A Journey Through the Mathematics of Yves Meyer

The mathematics of Yves Meyer cover a wide range of fields, as various as number theory, harmonic analysis, operator theory, partial differential equations, control theory, signal and image processing.This survey gives an introductory and self-contained overview of Yves Meyer’s contributions to these areas of research.

Albert Cohen

List of Publications for Yves F. Meyer

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Curriculum Vitae for Yves F. Meyer

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene

Part VI


Abel Prize Citations 2003–2012

Helge Holden, Ragni Piene


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