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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

An Enigma Solves an Enigma

Posted by on August 15 at 14:20 PM

His name is Grisha Perelman. He is Russian, “looks like Rasputin,” likes hiking and picking mushrooms, and mathematicians think he may have solved the PoincarĂ© conjecture, which I don’t totally understand (something to do with how there isn’t any difference between a rabbit and a cigar and a sphere) but it sounds elegant and important:

After posting a few short papers on the Internet and making a whirlwind lecture tour of the United States, Perelman, known as Grisha, disappeared back into the Russian woods in the spring of 2003, leaving the world’s mathematicians to pick up the pieces and decide if he was right.

It appears he was. And, after rejecting offers from Princeton, Standford, and the European Mathematical Society, he has withdrawn into his beloved forests to hike and pick mushrooms. Or that’s what his admirers are guessing:

Recently, Perelman is said to have resigned from Steklov. E-mail messages addressed to him and to the Steklov Institute went unanswered. In his absence, others have taken the lead in trying to verify and disseminate his work.

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He's going to be able to buy himself a forest or two. There is a
one million dollar prize
from the Clay Mathematics Institute for solving this problem.

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