05. July 2022

Bonn mathematics graduate Maryna Viazovska receives the Fields Medal Bonn mathematics graduate Maryna Viazovska receives the Fields Medal

Mathematician Maryna Viazovska has received the Fields Medal, which is presented at the International Congress of Mathematics in Helsinki, which opened today. The award has been presented every four years since 1936 to mathematicians under the age of 40. The 37-year-old Viazovska is from Ukraine. She completed her doctorate at the University of Bonn in 2013. Today she is a professor at EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland.

Award-winning mathematician
Award-winning mathematician - Maryna Viazovska has been awarded the Fields medal. © © EPFL 2022 / Fred Merz (Lundi13)
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In a press release, EPFL said today that the young professor specializing in number theory receives the Fields Medal for her solution to the problem of sphere packing in dimensions 8 and 24. The question of how to pack spheres as close together as possible, for example in an orange pyramid, has occupied mathematics for more than four centuries. As early as 1611, Johannes Kepler suspected that this could best be achieved in the form of a pyramid. His hypothesis was not proven until 1998.

Viazovska decided to solve the problem for dimensions 8 and 24 because they were special dimensions and the solutions for them were particularly elegant. "The difficulty is that although the problem remains the same, each dimension is different and the optimal solution depends strongly on the dimension," the mathematician said. Experts praised the originality and elegance of her proof, which made use of the "modular forms" that were a focus of her dissertation.

As a doctoral student under Don Zagier at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Viazovska attended the Bonn International Graduate School of Mathematics (BIGS Mathematics). BIGS Mathematics is the graduate school of the Cluster of Excellence Hausdorff Center for Mathematics at the University of Bonn, where excellent students from Germany and around the world are introduced to cutting-edge mathematical research.

Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Hoch congratulated Maryna Viazovska on her honor: "It is a great pleasure that today an alumna of the University of Bonn has received the Fields Medal. That Mrs. Viazovska is only the second woman to receive this honor is remarkable!" Today's award marks the third time that the Fields Medal has gone to former doctoral candidates from Bonn - following Maxim Kontsevich, who also earned his doctorate under Don Zagier in Bonn in 1992 and received the medal in 1998, and Peter Scholze, who was honored in 2018 with what is also considered the "Nobel Prize in Mathematics."

Maryna Viazovska was born on December 2, 1984, in Kiev, Ukraine. After earning a bachelor's degree in Kiev, she completed a master's degree at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern and then moved to the University of Bonn to pursue a doctorate, which she completed in 2013. After a postdoctoral position in Berlin, she joined EPFL in 2016, where she was promoted from a tenure-track assistant professorship to a full professorship in 2017.

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