Fields Medal

Fields Medals are given every four years to the most distinguished mathematicians age 40 or under. In the absence of a Nobel Prize in mathematics, they are regarded as the highest professional honor a mathematician can attain. Canadian mathematician J. C. Fields donated funds establishing the medals and they were first awarded in 1936.

Ngô Bao Châu

Professor, Mathematics Department, 2010

Fields Medal, 2010
For his proof of the Fundamental Lemma in the theory of automorphic forms through the introduction of new algebro–geometric methods.

Ngo Bao Chau

Andrei Okounkov

L.E. Dickson Instructor, Mathematics Department, 1996–99

Fields Medal, 2006
For his contributions bridging probability, representation theory, and algebraic geometry.


Efim Zelmanov

Mathematics Department, 1994–95

Fields Medal, 1994
For his solution to the restricted Burnside problem.


Vladimir Drinfeld

Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor in Mathematics, 1999–present

Fields Medal, 1990
For his work on quantum groups and for his work in number theory.

vladmir drinfield

Charles Louis Fefferman

Mathematics Department, 1970–73

Fields Medal, 1978
For several innovations that revised the study of multidimensional complex analysis by finding correct generalizations of classical low-dimensional results, through his work on partial differential equations, Fourier analysis, in particular convergence, multipliers, divergence, singular integrals, and Hardy spaces.


John Griggs Thompson

PhD, Mathematics, 1959 Mathematics Department, 1962–68

Fields Medal, 1970
Proved jointly with W. Feit that all non-cyclic finite simple groups have even order. The extension of this work by Thompson determined the minimal simple finite groups, that is, the simple finite groups whose proper subgroups are solvable.

john griggs thompson

Stephen Smale

Instructor, Department of Mathematics, 1956–58 Professor, Department of Mathematics and TTI, 2004–present

Fields Medal, 1966
Worked in differential topology where he proved the generalized Poincaré conjecture in dimension n>=5: Every closed, n-dimensional manifold homotopy-equivalent to the n-dimensional sphere is homeomorphic to it. Introduced the method of handle-bodies to solve this and related problems.


Paul Joseph Cohen

PhD, Mathematics, 1958

Fields Medal, 1966
Used technique called “forcing” to prove the independence in set theory of the axiom of choice and of the generalized continuum hypothesis. The latter problem was the first of Hilbert’s problems of the 1900 Congress.

paul joseph cohen

Lars Hörmander

Visitor, Mathematics Department, Winter and Spring Quarters, 1956

Fields Medal, 1962
For his outstanding work in the theory of partial differential equations.

lars hormander