Hungarian academic László Lovász (73) was awarded this year’s Abel Prize, also known as the “mathematics Nobel Prize”, Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet reports. He shares the prize with Israeli mathematician Avi Wigderson.
In its announcement, the awarding committee said the two received the prize “for their foundational contributions to theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics, and their leading role in shaping them into central fields of modern mathematics”. Lovász’s field of study, graph theory, became in the early 1970s one of the first areas of pure mathematics able to illuminate the new field of computational complexity.
Lovász, born in Budapest in 1948, was a math prodigy in his teens, winning three gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad between 1964 and 1966. He has two doctorates, one in natural sciences and one in mathematical sciences. After an academic career in Hungary and the United States, he joined Microsoft as senior researcher in 1999, where he worked until his return to Hungary in 2006. He was the president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences from 2014 to 2020.
After Péter Lax (2005) and Endre Szemerédi (2012) he is the third Hungarian to be awarded the Abel Prize.
“In 2012, I was present at the presentation of Endre Szemerédi’s Abel Prize in Oslo. I toyed with the idea that one day maybe I could stand there with the Norwegian king,” Lovász told Magyar Nemzet. “At the same time, you need to know about me that rewards never motivated me. The joy and excitement of discovery has always been an incomparable experience for me.”
Title image: Hungarian academic László Lovász. (source: Hungarian Academy of Sciences/Laszlo Mudra)