Rutgers Professor Wins ‘Nobel Prize’ of Mathematics
Order and reason are a mathematician’s tools. In the hands of a very select few, however, those tools can transform an abstract discipline into art. That, in large part, is why the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced that Endre Szemerédi, a 71-year-old Rutgers professor, had won the 2012 Abel Prize, the unofficial Nobel Prize in mathematics.
Szemerédi’s field is discrete mathematics, specifically combinatorics, which is the science of number sequences or arithmetical progressions. In 1975, then in his mid-30s, Szemerédi proved that arithmetical progressions of any length — five, 10, 10,000, etc. — can be found in any positive sequence of integers. That principle has inspired a generation of mathematicians in their own work and resulted in new theorems and proofs, all of which credit Szemerédi’s initial breakthrough.