Ukrainian Maryna Viazovska wins Fields Medal, the highest honor for mathematicians

Ukrainian Maryna Viazovska, a sphere-packing number theorist, has won the Fields Medal, one of the most prestigious awards for mathematicians. According to Quanta Magazine, she became the second female winner in the award’s 86-year history.

Photo: Quantamagazine
  • The Fields Medal is an award given to two, three, or four mathematicians under the age of 40 for significant contribution to science every four years. The prize was founded by the Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields, and it is considered the most prestigious honor in mathematics. The prize amount is 15,000 Canadian dollars (approximately $11,600).
  • Maryna Viazovska, 37, won the medal at the end of February, shortly before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But she got the award only today, July 5, at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Helsinki. Interestingly, the ceremony was supposed to take place in St. Petersburg, but more than 400 mathematicians signed a boycott petition. Therefore, the awards have been moved to Finland.
  • At today’s ceremony, the Congress of Mathematicians recognized Viazovska’s many mathematical accomplishments, particularly her work in solving a mathematical problem about packing balls. She proved that the perfect way to pack spheres in 8-dimensional space is the E₈ lattice, and in 24-dimensional space — the Leech lattice.
  • The Ukrainian has solved a problem that world’s mathematicians have been struggling with for centuries. The solution of Viazovska’s eight-dimensional case takes only 23 pages and is “stunningly simple,” according to mathematicians.