tisdag 6 juli 2010

Perelman: Crisis of Pure Mathematics?

Grigory Perelman motivates his rejection of the Clay Millenium Prize:
  • The main reason is my disagreement with the organized mathematical community. I don’t like their decisions; I consider them unjust.
Perelman has previously rejected the Fields Medal on the same grounds.

This is blow to the field of pure mathematics struggling to keep its position as the Queen of Sciences, in competion with e.g. booming computational applied mathematics.

The dilemma of pure mathematics is to present its results to a broader scientific and general public, results which can only be grasped by few selected pure mathematicians. An example is
the proof of Poincare's conjecture, for which Perelman was awarded the Clay Prize.

Perelman's proof essentially concerns properties of solutions of parabolic partial differential equations, in principle within my scientific horizon, but I have not been able to follow the
incredibly elaborate constructions involved. I understand that I cannot possibly understand.

Moreover, I cannot understand the relevance and scientific interest of these constructions.

So we have a situation where almost everybody is excluded from understanding and the central icon refuses to play the game. It is not an easy case for "the organized mathematical community" to sell...

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