University of Chicago mathematician Vladimir Drinfeld wins prestigious Shaw Prize

Drinfeld honored for ‘distinguished and significant advances’ in mathematical sciences

Vladimir Drinfeld, the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago, is one of two recipients of the prestigious Shaw Prize in Mathematical Sciences for 2023.

He shares this year’s honor jointly with Shing-Tung Yau of Tsinghua University for their “contributions related to mathematical physics, to arithmetic geometry, to differential geometry and to Kähler geometry.”

The Shaw Prize honors individuals who have recently achieved distinguished and significant advances in the fields of astronomy, life science and medicine, and mathematical sciences. Each category carries a monetary award of $1.2 million.

The award notes that Drinfeld’s work is considered “a pillar of arithmetic geometry, which is at the core of new developments in the field.”

Drinfeld invented the shtukas (from Stück in German, meaning “piece”) in resonance with the Korteweg–de Vries equation in physics and proved the arithmetic Langlands conjecture over a function field in rank two, for which he was awarded the Fields Medal — often described as the mathematics counterpart to the Nobel Prize — in 1990. His research also includes work in representation theory, mathematical physics and quantum group theory.

“Volodya is a remarkable colleague,” said Shmuel Weinberger, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and chair of the UChicago mathematics department. “Many mathematical breakthroughs were fomented, presented and studied in the Geometric Langlands seminar created by him and Sasha Beilinson; it is a model of strenuous intellectual effort in the service of discovery through deep understanding. He is also a person who cares deeply about others, as well as a profoundly humble one.”

Drinfeld has been a professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago since 1999. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

Drinfeld and UChicago colleague Alexander Beilinson, the David and Mary Winton Green University Professor of Mathematics, who also received the Shaw Prize in 2020, jointly received the 2018 Wolf Prize in Mathematics for their work on the geometric Langlands program.

Established in 2002 under the auspices of the late Run Run Shaw, the Shaw Prize honors individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in academic and scientific research or applications and whose works have resulted in positive and profound impacts on mankind.