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Carleson Awarded Abel Prize

Published torsdag 23 mars 2006 kl 13.50

Swedish mathematician Lennart Carleson won the 6 million kroner US$925,000 Norwegian Abel Prize on Thursday for proving a 19th century theorem on harmonic analyses.

Carleson, 78, works with the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and the awards committee said he has made significant contributions in several fields of mathematics.

According to the citation, ”Carleson’s work has forever altered our view of analysis. Not only did he prove extremely hard theorems, but the methods he introduced to prove them have turned out to be as important as the theorems themselves.”

It also praised Carleson’s efforts to popularize mathematics in Sweden schools and for being open in sharing his work with other scholars.

One of his most recognized efforts was proving the so-called Fourier series, which forms the basis for harmonic analyses.

The series is named for French mathematician and engineer Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, who discovered in 1807 that many phenomena, such as the vibrations of violin strings, can be seen as sums of simple wave patterns called sines and cosines.

However, after more than 150 years, no one found a mathematical formula to prove his claim that every function equals the sum of its Fourier series.

Working on the unproven Lusin conjecture for many years Carelson finally made a breakthrough.

It said the proof of the result was so difficult that it remained separate from the mainstream of harmonic analysis for nearly three decades.

Only in the past decade have mathematicians understood the theory and put it to work.

The Abel Prize was created by the Norwegian government in 2002 and is named after 19th Century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.

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