The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded this year the Abel Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for Mathematics, to the researcher Robert P. Langlands of the Institute of Advanced Studies of Princeton (USA). The jury recognizes the visionary program promoted by the winner to integrate various mathematical disciplines, such as harmonic analysis and number theory.
Awarded annually by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters since 2003, the Prize Committee – made up of five mathematicians of international renown – has decided to award this recognition to the Canadian researcher “for his visionary program that connects representation theory with theory.” of numbers “, a work dating back to 1967.
Langlands, then an associate professor at Princeton in his thirties who worked during the Christmas holidays, wrote a 17-page letter to the great French mathematician André Weil, 60, in which he outlined some of his new mathematical insights. The letter presented a theory that created a totally new way of thinking about mathematics, by suggesting the deep connection between two branches that were previously considered independent of each other:number theory and harmonic analysis. The ideas of Langlands, considered as the “father of the unified theory of mathematics”, were so radical and the richness of the mechanisms to unite these mathematical fields was such that the letter led to a project called ‘the Langlands program’, to which hundreds of leading mathematicians from around the world have joined over the past 50 years.
No other project of modern mathematics has such a broad scope, has produced so many relevant results and has involved so many people working on it. Its depth and breadth have grown and currently this program is often considered as a great unified theory of mathematics, especially of number theory with geometry.