# The first Abel Prize goes to Jean-Pierre Serre

Jean-Pierre Serre, professor emeritus at Collège de France in Paris, is awarded the Abel Prize for 2003. It was the president of Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Inger Moen, who announced the name of the 76-year-old French mathematician at the Academy on the 3rd of April. The prize committee's citation states that Jean-Pierre Serre is receiving the Abel Prize "for playing an important role in giving many areas of mathematics a modern form, including topology, algebraic geometry and number theory". "In many ways Serre's work developed the ideas first propounded by Niels Henrik Abel in his time", remarked the chairman of the Abel Committee, Erling Størmer.

*Jean-Pierre Serre (76), professor emeritus at Collège de France, is awarded the Abel Prize for 2003. This was announced by the President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Professor Inger Moen. Photo: Trine Nickelsen*

Jean-Pierre Serre was born at Bages in France in 1926. He studied at the École normale supérieure and took his doctorate at the Sorbonne. In 1956 he became a professor at the Collège de France. Serre has received a number of prizes, inter alia the Fields Medal and the Wolf Prize.

Jean-Pierre Serre is accounted one of the greatest mathematicians of our time. He has been making profound contributions to the development of mathematics for more than half a century and is still an active mathematician. Serre's work has an unusually wide and deep reach, and is extremely influential. He has played an important role in giving many fields of mathematics a modern form.

It was Professor Reidun Sirevåg, secretary-general of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, who on the same day, right before the announcement, telephoned the laureate.

"I spoke to him in English. The first thing he said when he heard the news was 'oh'. Then there was silence on the line. After a while he said that he was honoured to be the first Abel Prize laureate. Then he asked whether he was sharing the prize with anyone. When I said no, he said that the honour was if possible even greater."

The Abel Prize has given the discipline of mathematics an international prize of high rank, taken note of far outside the borders of Norway. Among other things, Science had a broad description of the Abel Prize and the first laureate on its website. The American Mathematical Society's highly prestigious journal Notices of the AMS also carried a major article about Jean-Pierre Serre after the announcement.