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Math Trek

Million-dollar math prize awarded, but not necessarily accepted

The reclusive mathematician who proved the Poincaré conjecture may or may not claim his prize

By
3:49pm, April 2, 2010

The Clay Mathematics Institute announced March 18 that it is awarding its first Millennium Prize, this one for the resolution of the Poincaré conjecture, to Grigoriy Perelman, formerly of the Steklov Institute of Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.

Perelman first announced his proof of the conjecture in 2002, publishing a sketch of his result over the following months online. Dozens of mathematicians labored for several years to fill in the details of his proof and verify its validity, finally presenting the proof in several different book-length manuscripts.

But Perelman may or may not accept the award — or the million dollars that go with it. In 2006, Perelman was awarded the Fields Medal, often considered mathematics’ version of a Nobel Prize. Perelman declined the honor, having become estranged from the mathematics community. Perelman is now pondering whether he will accept

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