2007 Abel Prize

The 2007 Abel Prize has been announced. The winner is S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan for his work on large deviations in probability. Large deviations are asymptotic estimates of rare events. They are of practical importance, for example, in justifying the results of statistical mechanics. Cosma Shalizi’s notebook on large deviations provides an overview and many more links.

I find it interesting that the Abel Prize has taken a turn towards the applied in recent years. The first two awards, to Serre and to Atiyah and Singer, track the expectations of pure mathematicians. In the last three years, though, one prize has gone to Peter Lax, who works in applied PDEs, and now this year Varadhan. (The other winner is Lennart Carleson.)