Mathematician Prof. Peter D. Lax Named Winner of 2005 Abel Prize

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awarded the Abel Prize to former Sackler Distinguished Lecturer in Mathematics Prof. Peter D. Lax

Prof. Peter Lax receives the 2005 Abel Prize from H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon in the University Aula. Photo: Knut Falch/Scanpix

The 2005 Abel Prize in Mathematics has been awarded to Sackler Distinguished Lecturer for the academic year 2004/2005 Prof. Peter D. Lax, Emeritus Professor at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Prof. Lax was awarded the Abel Prize "for his groundbreaking contributions to the theory and application of partial differential equations and to the computation of their solutions."

 

In awarding the prize, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters cited among his extraordinary scholarship the work Prof. Lax did in the 1950s and 1960s laying the foundations for the modern theory of nonlinear equations for hyperbolic systems; his introduction of the widely used Lax-Friedrichs and Lax-Wendroff numerical schemes for computing solutions (which has been extraordinarily fruitful for practical applications, from weather prediction to airplane design); his development of the “Lax Equivalence Theorem,” a cornerstone of modern numerical analysis; and his work on “soliton” solutions, in which he developed a unifying concept for understanding them, rewriting the equations in terms of what are now called “Lax pairs”.

 

The Norwegian Academy said, “Peter D. Lax has been described as the most versatile mathematician of his generation. Peter D. Lax stands out in joining together pure and applied mathematics, combining a deep understanding of analysis with an extraordinary capacity to find unifying concepts. He has had a profound influence, not only by his research, but also by his writing, his lifelong commitment to education and his generosity to younger mathematicians.”

 

Prof. Lax served as the President of the American Mathematical Society (1977-1980). He worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos (1945-1946), and was a staff member at Los Alamos (1950). Prof. Lax has received many honors and awards for his work, including the Chauvenet Prize (1974), the Norbert Wiener Prize of the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (1975), the National Medal of Science (1986), the Wolf Prize (1987) and shared the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize (1992). In 1996, Prof. Lax was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.

 

The Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) offers its warmest congratulations to its past Sackler Distinguished lecturer in Mathematics Prof. Lax, on receiving this most prestigious prize.

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