13 = The Number of French Fields Medal Winners
Artur Ávila, a Brazil-born Frenchman and the director of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), has just received the Fields Medal.
Awarded every 4 years since 1936, the medal—considered the ultimate token of recognition—is often referred to as the “mathematician’s Nobel Prize.” It is officially known as the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics.
Artur Ávila received the medal for his work on dynamic systems. Now a dual citizen, he began his education in Brazil and completed it in France, thanks to the establishment of a joint CNRS-IMPA program in Rio in 2006. This achievement reflects decades of scientific cooperation between France and Brazil, and Ávila’s career exemplifies France’s attractiveness in the field of research.
Artur Ávila is the 13th French winner, out of a total of 55. Along with the United States, France accounts for the largest number of winners (counting Alexander Grothendieck, who is stateless but was trained and spent much of his working life in France). This is the 6th consecutive time that a French mathematician has received the award and confirms the world-class role played by French mathematicians.
The success of the French school of mathematics can be explained by a system that is highly effective at identifying talent, prospects for an early and stable career, competitive salaries and good working conditions. France therefore continues to attract top minds.
The 2014 edition also marked the first time that a woman received the award; she is Maryam Mirzakhani, an American of Iranian origin.
Complete list of French winners:
1950 – Laurent Schwartz
1954 – Jean-Pierre Serre
1958 – René Thom
1966 – Alexandre Grothendick (he won but refused the medal)
1982 – Alain Connes
1994 – Pierre-Louis Lions and Jean-Christophe Yoccoz
1998 – Maxime Kontsevitch (Franco-Russian)
2002 – Laurent Lafforgue
2006 – Wendelin Werner
2010 – Cédric Villani and Ngô Bào Chu (Franco-Vietnamese)
2014 – Artur Avila