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Perelman wins but won’t accept Clay Mathematics Prize

Grigory Perelman, the reclusive Russian mathematician who solved the Poincare Conjecture in 2003 has officially been awarded the one million dollar Clay Mathematics Prize for doing so.

The prize was announced [March 18] by James Carlson, president of the institute. It is the first of the million-dollar Millennium prizes to be awarded. They were established in 2000 by the institute for the solution of seven longstanding problems.

Will Dr. Perelman accept? “He will let me know in due time,” Dr. Carlson wrote in an e-mail message, acknowledging that they had been in touch. He declined to provide more details.

It appears now that the answer is No.

Dr Perelman, 43, has cut himself off from the outside world for the past four years, living with his elderly mother in a tiny flat said by neighbours to be infested with cockroaches.


The mathematician is reported to have said “I have all I want” when contacted by a reporter this week about the Clay Millennium Prize.

According to the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, he was speaking through the closed door of his flat.

Dr Perelman was the first person to turn down the Fields Medal, which would have been presented to him at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid.

“I’m not interested in money or fame,” he is quoted to have said at the time.

“I don’t want to be on display like an animal in a zoo. I’m not a hero of mathematics. I’m not even that successful; that is why I don’t want to have everybody looking at me.”

Well, he’s consistent, that’s for sure. His name will go down in history regardless of whatever else he does. Thanks to Matt for the reminder about this.

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