Robert P. Langlands received the Abel Prize from H.M. King Harald

In the University Aula in Oslo, surrounded by Munch's paintings and a diverse mathematical audience, Robert P. Langlands was today, May 22, awarded the Abel Prize for 2018 by H.M. King Harald. Langlands received the award of 6 million NOK “for his visionary program connecting representation theory to number theory.” The Langlands program is frequently described as a grand unified theory of mathematics.

Robert P. Langlands received the Abel Prize from H.M. King Harald. Photo: Thoms Brun Robert P. Langlands received the Abel Prize from H.M. King Harald. Photo: Thoms Brun

Langlands is awarded the Abel Prize for his work that started in 1967. He was then a 30-year-old associative professor at Princeton when he wrote a 17-pages letter to the great French mathematician André Weil, aged 60, outlining some of his new mathematical insights.

“If you are willing to read it as pure speculation I would appreciate that,” he wrote. “If not – I am sure you have a waste basket handy.”

Fortunately, the letter did not end up in a waste basket. His letter introduced a theory that created a completely new way of thinking about mathematics: it suggested deep links between two areas, number theory and harmonic analysis, which had previously been considered as unrelated. The program has enlisted hundreds of the world’s best mathematicians over the last fifty years.

John Rognes, chair of the Abel committee, explained the reasons for awarding the Abel Prize 2018 to Robert P. Langlands at the award ceremony.

Abel lectures

Robert P. Langlands gave his prize lecture at the Universty of Oslo on the 23rd of May. Edward Frenkel and James Arthur gave the two other lectures.

Edward Frenkel, Robert Langlands and James Arthur gave lectures at the University of Oslo. (Photo: Anne-Marie Astad)Edward Frenkel, Robert Langlands and James Arthur gave lectures at the University of Oslo. (Photo: Anne-Marie Astad)

Press photos

Watch the Award Ceremony:

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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