Yves Meyer receives the Abel Prize

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the Abel Prize for 2017 to Yves Meyer (77) of the École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay, France “for his pivotal role in the development of the mathematical theory of wavelets”. The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Ole M. Sejersted, announced the winner of the 2017 Abel Prize at the Academy in Oslo today, 21 March.

Yves Meyer was the visionary leader in the modern development of this theory, at the intersection of mathematics, information technology and computational science. 

Wavelet analysis has been applied in a wide variety of arenas as diverse as applied and computational harmonic analysis, data compression, noise reduction, medical imaging, archiving, digital cinema, deconvolution of the Hubble space telescope images, and the recent LIGO detection of gravitational waves created by the collision of two black holes.

Yves Meyer will receive the Abel Prize from His Majesty King Harald V at an award ceremony in Oslo on 23 May.

The Abel Prize recognizes contributions of extraordinary depth and influence to the mathematical sciences and has been awarded annually since 2003. It carries a cash award of 6 million NOK (about 675,000 Euro or 715,000 USD). 

An intellectual nomad

The Abel Prize Laureate 2017 Yves Meyer (Photo:B. Eymann/Académie des sciences)
The Abel Prize Laureate 2017 Yves Meyer (Photo:B. Eymann/Académie des sciences)

Having made important contributions to the field of number theory early in his career, Meyer’s boundless energy and curiosity prompted him to work on methods for breaking down complex mathematical objects into simpler wavelike components – a topic called harmonic analysis. This led him in turn to help construct a theory for analysing complicated signals, with important ramifications for computer and information technologies. Then he moved on again to tackle fundamental problems in the mathematics of fluid flow. “During my professional life I obsessively tried to cross the frontiers,” he says.

Meyer’s work has a relevance extending from theoretical areas of mathematics to the development of practical tools in computer and information science. As such it is a perfect example of the claim that work in pure mathematics often turns out to have important and useful real-world applications. 

Yves Meyer has inspired a generation of mathematicians who have gone on to make contributions in their own right. His collaborator on wavelet theory Stéphane Mallat calls him a “visionary” whose work cannot be labelled either pure or applied mathematics, nor computer science either, but simply “amazing”.


Yves Meyer, born 19 July 1939 of French nationality, grew up in Tunis on the North African coast. He entered the élite École normale supérieure de la rue d’Ulm in Paris in 1957, coming first in the entrance examination. After graduating, Meyer completed his military service as a teacher in a military school. He obtained his PhD in 1966 from the University of Strasbourg.

He became a professor of mathematics first at the Université Paris-Sud, as it is now known, (1966-1980), then the École Polytechnique (1980-1986), and the Université Paris-Dauphine (1986-1995). He moved to the École normale supérieure Cachan (recently renamed the ENS Paris-Saclay) in 1995, where he worked at the Centre of Mathematics and its Applications (CMLA) until formally retiring in 2008. But he is still an associate member of the research centre.

Awards and recognitions

Yves Meyer has been a member of the French Académie des Sciences since 1993. In 1994 he was elected foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and became a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2014.

Yves Meyer became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012. He was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 1970 (Nice), in 1983 (Warsaw), and in 1990 (Kyoto). He was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematical Physics in 1988 (Swansea). 

His prizes include the Salem (1970) and Gauss (2010) prizes, the latter awarded jointly by the International Mathematical Union and the German Mathematical Society for advances in mathematics that have had an impact outside the field.

The Abel Prize

The Abel Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The choice of laureate is based on the recommendation of the Abel Committee, which is composed of five internationally recognized mathematicians. The members of the current committee are: John Rognes (chair), Marta Sanz-Solé, Luigi Ambrosio, Marie-France Vignéras and Ben J. Green.

The Abel Prize and associated events are funded by the Norwegian Government.

Read more about the Abel Laureate.

Abel Prize announcement March 21

Popular science presentation by Terence Tao

The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Ole M. Sejersted, will announce the winner of the Abel Prize for 2017 at the Academy on the 21st of March. The Academy's choice of laureate is based on the Abel Committee's recommendation. The chair of the Abel Committee, John Rognes, will give the reasons for the awarding of the prize. The world famous mathematician Terence Tao will give the popular science presentation of the prize winner's work.

(09.03.2017) More

Congratulations from AMS President

"On behalf of the American Mathematical Society, it is my great pleasure to congratulate Professor Yves Meyer, recipient of the 2017 Abel Prize.  Professor Meyer has been a visionary in a broad range of fields, including number theory and differential equations.  His fundamental work in the theory of wavelets has transformed the world of signal processing and has led to a myriad of practical applications."  -- AMS President Kenneth A. Ribet (University of California, Berkeley)
Photo: Jim Brook


(02.04.2017) More

"Abel in Barcelona" with lecture by Louis Nirenberg

Institut d'Estudis Catalans will host the Abel in Barcelona-event on Monday the 16th of January. In connection with the final meeting of the Abel committee, whose task it is to select the Abel Prize Laureate for 2017, there will be an afternoon of lectures aimed at a broad mathematical audience. Louis Nirenberg, who shared the Abel Prize 2015 with John Nash, will give the first lecture. There will also be lectures by two of the Abel committee members, Luigi Ambrosio and Ben Green.

(04.01.2017) More

Sir Andrew J. Wiles received the Abel Prize from H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon

Andrew Wiles received the 2016 Abel Prize from Norway's Crown Prince Haakon at an award ceremony in Oslo today, on 24 May. He receives the prize "for his stunning proof of Fermat's Last Theorem by way of the modularity conjecture for semistable elliptic curves, opening a new era in number theory", to quote the Abel Committee. The Abel Prize carries a cash award of 6 million NOK (about EUR 700,000 or USD 750,000) and has been awarded annually since 2003 by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

(24.05.2016) More

The Abel lectures 2016

Abel Laureate Sir Andrew Wiles will give his prize lecture at the University of Oslo on the 25th of May,  followed by two Abel Lectures by Henri Darmon and Manjul Bhargava. Simon Singh will then give the popular lecture From Fermat's Last Theorem to Homer's Last Theorem.

(10.05.2016) More
Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi
Drammensveien 78
N-0271 Oslo
Telefon: +47 22 84 15 00
Telefaks: +47 22 12 10 99
E-post: abelprisen@dnva.no
Nettredaktør: Anne-Marie Astad
Design og teknisk løsning: Ravn Webveveriet AS
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
Drammensveien 78
N-0271 Oslo, Norway
Telephone: + 47 22 84 15 00
Fax: + 47 22 12 10 99
E-mail: abelprisen@dnva.no
Web editor: Anne-Marie Astad
Design and technical solutions: Ravn Webveveriet AS