When Jinks Strike!
The mathematician Chaucer Birkar from University of Cambridge won on August 2,2018 the Fields Medal which is the highest prize in mathematics, awarded every 4 years to a small group of mathematicians of ages 40 years old and less. Birkar, a Kurdish refugee from Iran, is the second person born in Iran to win a Fields Medal in this decade. Maryam Mirzakhani, a Stanford mathematician from Iran, became the first (and remains the only) woman to win a Fields Medal in 2014. She died in 2017 at the age of 40.
The award came with a 14-carat gold medal and $15,000 (in Canadian dollars, equivalent to about $11,500 US). According to the BBC, Birkar put the medal in his briefcase, along with his wallet and phone, and left the briefcase on a table in the Rio de Janeiro Conference Center where the award was presented.
When he returned, the briefcase was gone.
Birkar was one of four mathematicians to receive a Fields Medal in 2018. He received the prize for his work in the field of algebraic geometry.
As a mathematician,” Quanta Magazine explained in a profile published Aug. 1, “Birkar has helped bring order to the infinite variety of polynomial equations — those equations that consist of different variables raised to various powers. No two equations are exactly alike, but Birkar has helped reveal that many can be neatly categorized into a small number of families. In two papers published in 2016 he showed that an infinite number of different polynomials can be defined by a finite number of characteristics: a result which demonstrated that this bewildering array of seemingly unrelated algebraic equations shares something in common.”