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Wolf Prizes 2018

Mathematics and physics awardees have links to ICTP

Wolf Prize recipients with ties to ICTP: Alexander Beilinson (left) and Charles H. Bennett
Wolf Prize recipients with ties to ICTP: Alexander Beilinson (left) and Charles H. Bennett

15/02/2018 - Trieste

Two recipients of the Wolf Foundation's 2018 Prizes in Mathematics and Physics, which were announced on 12 February, have strong ties to ICTP. The Prize for Mathematics will be awarded to Professors Alexander Beilinson and Vladimir Drinfeld, both of the University of Chicago, for their ground-breaking work in algebraic geometry (a field that integrates abstract algebra with geometry), in mathematical physics and in presentation theory, a field which helps to understand complex algebraic structures.

Beilinson has lectured frequently at ICTP; most recently, he delivered a seminar on algebraic cycles as part of the ICTP Mathematics section's Basic Notions Seminars (watch it here), as well as an introductory course on Hodge theory. The Wolf Prize is one of the highest prizes in mathematics, along with the Abel Prize and the Fields Medal, with the latter restricted to mathematicians under 40 years of age.

The Wolf Foundation Prize for Physics will be shared by Professors Charles H. Bennett and Gilles Brassard for founding and advancing the fields of quantum cryptography and quantum teleportation. Bennett, of the IBM Watson Research Centre, is the recipient of ICTP's 2017 Dirac Medal, along with David Deutsch and Peter W. Shor, for their pioneering work in applying the fundamental concepts of quantum mechanics to solving basic problems in computation and communication and therefore bringing together the fields of quantum mechanics, computer science and information.

Alexander Beilinson's outstanding achievements include proofs of the Kashdan-Lustig and Jantzen conjectures, which play a key role in the representation theory, the development of important conjectures ("Beilinson's Conjectures") in algebraic geometry, and a significant contribution to the interface between geometry and mathematical physics. The joint work of Beilinson and Vladimir Drinfeld on the Langlands Program--a woven fabric of theorems and conjectures designed to link key areas of mathematics--has led to impressive progress in implementing the program in important areas of physics, such as quantum field theory and string theory.

Charles Bennett is an intellectual leader in quantum information with key contributions. He proved that classical computation can be done without consumption of energy by inventing what is now known as reversible classical computation. He further invented quantum cryptography, where the basic dichotomy of measurement of incompatible observables in quantum mechanics is used to share a secret key between two distant parties. He and collaborators also introduced quantum teleportation, whereby entanglement is put to use to transfer states of quantum matter at the speed of light. He further showed how universal quantum circuits can be made by assembling a fixed set of one and two qubit gates and also proved that von-Neumann entropy is the proper measure of entanglement for pure systems.