The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded the 2020 Abel Prize jointly to Hillel Furstenberg, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Gregory Margulis, Yale University, ‘for pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in group theory, number theory and combinatorics’.
Furstenberg and Margulis invented random walk techniques to investigate mathematical objects such as groups and graphs, and as a result introduced probabilistic methods to solve many open problems in group theory, number theory, combinatorics and graph theory. A random walk is a path consisting of a succession of random steps, and the study of random walks is a central branch of probability theory.
Furstenberg has a deep technical knowledge of diverse areas and has made insightful and surprising connections between them. In particular, he has made fundamental contributions to the field of ergodic theory, which have had far-reaching applications in number theory, geometry, combinatorics, group theory and probability. Of his many accolades, Furstenberg won the Israel Prize in 1993, regarded as the top honour in Israel, and the Wolf Prize in 2007.
During his illustrious mathematical career, Margulis has introduced many influential ideas, solved long-standing open questions, and discovered deep connections between different mathematical fields. His signature approach has been to use ergodic theory in unexpected and ingenious ways, which has led to the creation of entirely new areas of study. Throughout his career he has received several significant awards, including the Fields Medal in 1978 at the age of 32 and the Wolfe Prize in 2005.
More information is available here.
Submitted by John Johnston on 18 March, 2020 11:30