|Who is it?
|June 13, 1966
|Saint Petersburg, Russia, Russian
|Grigori Perelman age
|57 YEARS OLD
|Saint Petersburg, Russia
|Leningrad State University (PhD 1990)
|Riemannian geometry Geometric topology Proof of the soul conjecture Proof of the Poincaré conjecture
|Saint Petersburg Mathematical Society Prize (1991) EMS Prize (1996), declined Fields Medal (2006), declined Millennium Prize (2010), declined
|Saddle Surfaces in Euclidean Spaces (1990)
|Aleksandr Aleksandrov Yuri Burago
Grigori Perelman, renowned as a mathematician in Russia, is estimated to have a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million in the year 2024. Perelman gained worldwide recognition for his work on the Poincaré conjecture, solving one of the most challenging problems in mathematics. Despite his significant contributions to the field, Perelman has chosen to live a reclusive and modest lifestyle, rejecting numerous prestigious awards and job offers. He has shunned wealth and fame, opting to pursue his passion for mathematics purely for the sake of knowledge and unraveling the mysteries of the universe. Grigori Perelman's story continues to captivate and inspire mathematicians and aspiring scientists around the globe.
The Poincaré conjecture, proposed by French Mathematician Henri Poincaré in 1904, was one of key problems in topology. Any loop on a 3-sphere—as exemplified by the set of points at a distance of 1 from the origin in four-dimensional Euclidean space—can be contracted into a point. The Poincaré conjecture asserts that any closed three-dimensional manifold such that any loop can be contracted into a point is topologically a 3-sphere. The analogous result has been known to be true in dimensions greater than or equal to five since 1960 as in the work of Stephen Smale. The four-dimensional case resisted longer, finally being solved in 1982 by Michael Freedman. But the case of three-manifolds turned out to be the hardest of them all. Roughly speaking, this is because in topologically manipulating a three-manifold there are too few dimensions to move "problematic regions" out of the way without interfering with something else. The most fundamental contribution to the three-dimensional case had been produced by Richard S. Hamilton. The role of Perelman was to complete the Hamilton program.
Grigori Yakovlevich Perelman was born in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now Saint Petersburg, Russia) on 13 June 1966, to Russian-Jewish parents Yakov (who now lives in Israel) and Lyubov. Grigori's mother Lyubov gave up graduate work in mathematics to raise him. Grigori's mathematical talent became apparent at the age of ten, and his mother enrolled him in Sergei Rukshin's after-school math training program.
His mathematical education continued at the Leningrad Secondary School #239, a specialized school with advanced mathematics and physics programs. Grigori excelled in all subjects except physical education. In 1982, as a member of the Soviet Union team competing in the International Mathematical Olympiad, an international competition for high school students, he won a gold medal, achieving a perfect score. He continued as a student of School of Mathematics and Mechanics at the Leningrad State University, without admission examinations and enrolled to the university.
After his PhD in 1990, Perelman began work at the Leningrad Department of Steklov Institute of Mathematics of the USSR Academy of Sciences, where his advisors were Aleksandr Aleksandrov and Yuri Burago. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, with a strong recommendation from the geometer Mikhail Gromov, Perelman obtained research positions at several universities in the United States. In 1991 Perelman won the Young Mathematician Prize of the St. Petersburg Mathematical Society for his work on Aleksandrov's spaces of curvature bounded from below. In 1992, he was invited to spend a semester each at the Courant Institute in New York University and Stony Brook University where he began work on manifolds with lower bounds on Ricci curvature. From there, he accepted a two-year Miller Research Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley in 1993. After having proved the soul conjecture in 1994, he was offered jobs at several top universities in the US, including Princeton and Stanford, but he rejected them all and returned to the Steklov Institute in Saint Petersburg in the summer of 1995 for a research-only position.
In 1994, Perelman proved the soul conjecture. In 2003, he proved (confirmed in 2006) Thurston's geometrization conjecture. This consequently solved in the affirmative the Poincaré conjecture.
In November 2002, Perelman posted the first of a series of eprints to the arXiv, in which he claimed to have outlined a proof of the geometrization conjecture, of which the Poincaré conjecture is a particular case.
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.
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 attempted 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 only person to decline this prestigious prize.
It is uncertain whether his resignation from Steklov and subsequent seclusion mean that he has ceased to practice mathematics. Fellow countryman and Mathematician Yakov Eliashberg said that, in 2007, Perelman confided to him that he was working on other things but it was too premature to talk about it. He is said to have been interested in the past in the Navier–Stokes equations and the set of problems related to them that also constitutes a Millennium Prize, and there has been speculation that he may be working on them now.
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 the Clay Institute unfair for not sharing the prize with Richard S. 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."
In April 2011, Aleksandr Zabrovsky, Producer of "President-Film" studio, claimed to have held an interview with Perelman and agreed to shoot a film about him, under the tentative title The Formula of the Universe. Zabrovsky says that in the interview, Perelman explained why he rejected the one million dollar prize. A number of journalists believe that Zabrovky's interview is most likely a fake, pointing to contradictions in statements supposedly made by Perelman.
The Writer Brett Forrest briefly interacted with Perelman in 2012. Perelman refuses to talk to journalists. One who managed to reach him on his mobile was told: "You are disturbing me. I am picking mushrooms."