Ukrainian mathematician wins prestigious Fields Medal

The International Mathematical Union (IMU) on Tuesday announced the winners — Ukrainian Maryna Viazovska, 37, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Frenchman Hugo Duminil-Copin, 36, at the University of Geneva, Korean-American June Huh, 39, at Princeton University and Britisher James Maynard, 35, at Oxford.

Viazovska is the second woman to receive the Fields Medal, a prize awarded once every four years since 1950 to “recognise outstanding mathematical achievement” by those below 40. Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian mathematician and the first woman to receive the prize in 2014, died of cancer in 2017.

The Fields Medals are funded by a trust established by the 20th century Canadian mathematician J.C. Fields at the University of Toronto. The award includes a citation, a 14-karat gold medal weighing 169gm and a cash prize of 15,000 Canadian dollars (Rs 9.1 lakh).

Over a 13-year period between 2003 and 2016, Viazovska generated a formula for what some mathematicians call a “magic function” which is connected to an advanced version of the problem of how many spheres can be packed in a box wasting the least space.