Grigori Yakovlevich Perelman..is a Russian mathematician who made landmark contributions to Riemannian geometry and geometric topology before his presumed withdrawal from mathematics.
In 1994, Perelman proved the soul conjecture. In 2003, he proved Thurston's geometrization conjecture. This consequently solved in the affirmative the Poincaré conjecture, posed in 1904, which before its solution was viewed as one of the most important and difficult open problems in topology.
In August 2006, Perelman was awarded the Fields Medal for "his contributions to geometry and his revolutionary insights into the analytical and geometric structure of the Ricci flow."
Perelman declined to accept the award or to appear at the congress, stating: "I'm not interested in money or fame; I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo." On 22 December 2006, the scientific journal Science recognized Perelman's proof of the Poincaré conjecture as the scientific "Breakthrough of the Year", the first such recognition in the area of mathematics.
On 18 March 2010, it was announced that he had met the criteria to receive the first Clay Millennium Prize for resolution of the Poincaré conjecture. On 1 July 2010, he turned down the prize of one million dollars. He additionally turned down the prestigious prize of the European Mathematical Society.
In May 2006, a committee of nine mathematicians voted to award Perelman a Fields Medal for his work on the Poincaré conjecture. However, Perelman declined to accept the prize. Sir John Ball, president of the International Mathematical Union, approached Perelman in Saint Petersburg in June 2006 to persuade him to accept the prize. After 10 hours of persuasion over two days, Ball gave up. Two weeks later, Perelman summed up the conversation as follows: "He proposed to me three alternatives: accept and come; accept and don't come, and we will send you the medal later; third, I don't accept the prize. From the very beginning, I told him I have chosen the third one... [the prize] was completely irrelevant for me. Everybody understood that if the proof is correct, then no other recognition is needed." "'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.'"
Nevertheless, on 22 August 2006, Perelman was publicly offered the medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid "for his contributions to geometry and his revolutionary insights into the analytical and geometric structure of the Ricci flow." He did not attend the ceremony, and declined to accept the medal, making him the first and only person to decline this prestigious prize.
He had previously turned down a prestigious prize from the European Mathematical Society.
On 18 March 2010, Perelman was awarded a Millennium Prize for solving the problem. On June 8, 2010, he did not attend a ceremony in his honor at the Institut Océanographique, Paris to accept his $1 million prize. According to Interfax, Perelman refused to accept the Millennium prize in July 2010. He considered the decision of Clay Institute unfair for not sharing the prize with Richard Hamilton, and stated that "the main reason is my disagreement with the organized mathematical community. I don't like their decisions, I consider them unjust."
Perelman's proof was rated one of the top cited articles in Math-Physics in 2008.
Possible withdrawal from mathematics
Perelman quit his job at the Steklov Institute in December 2005. His friends are said to have stated that he currently finds mathematics a painful topic to discuss; some even say that he has abandoned mathematics entirely.
Perelman is quoted in an article in The New Yorker saying that he is disappointed with the ethical standards of the field of mathematics. The article implies that Perelman refers particularly to the efforts of Fields medalist Shing-Tung Yau to downplay Perelman's role in the proof and play up the work of Cao and Zhu. Perelman added, "I can't say I'm outraged. Other people do worse. Of course, there are many mathematicians who are more or less honest. But almost all of them are conformists. They are more or less honest, but they tolerate those who are not honest." He has also said that "It is not people who break ethical standards who are regarded as aliens. It is people like me who are isolated."
This, combined with the possibility of being awarded a Fields medal,
led him to quit professional mathematics. He has said that "As long as
I was not conspicuous, I had a choice. Either to make some ugly thing
[to protest vocally against certain individual or
mathematics-community cultural practices] or, if I didn't do this kind of thing, to be treated as a pet. Now,
when I become a very conspicuous person, I cannot stay a pet and say
nothing. That is why I had to quit." (The New Yorker authors explained
Perelman's reference to "some ugly thing" as "a fuss" on Perelman's
part about the ethical breaches he perceived).