One of the most important math prizes in the world was given to a woman for the first time on Tuesday. Karen Uhlenbeck is the first woman to win the Abel Prize for mathematics.
The New York Times says the prize was “her work’s fundamental impact on analysis, geometry, and mathematical physics.” Based on the Nobel Prize is given by the king of Norway to honour great mathematicians who have had a big impact on their field. It comes with a cash prize of about $700,000 in Norwegian kroner. Since 2003, the award has been given out, but every winner has been a man.
Dr Uhlenbeck is well-known for her work in partial differential equations, gauge theory, and systems that can be made to work together. The Times says she helped start a field called “geometric analysis,” Her theories about predictive math, inspired by soap bubbles, are among her most well-known contributions.
Sun-Yung Alice Chang, a mathematician at Princeton University on the prize committee, said, “She did things that nobody thought to do, and after she did them, she laid the foundations of a branch of mathematics.”
According to the New York Times, Dr. Uhlenbeck learned of her historic achievement by text message on Sunday morning and has yet to determine what to do with the $100,000 reward. She said she hadn’t decided what to do with the money she had won.
“When I got out of the church, I saw that Alice Chang had sent me a text message that said, “Would you please take a call from Norway?” “When I got home, I called Norway to find out what they said.