Mathematics Professor Dennis Sullivan has been awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize in Mathematics, which is considered an equivalent of the Nobel Prize and worth $100,000. Sullivan, who was recognized for his innovative contributions to algebraic topology and conformal dynamics, will receive the award from President Shimon Peres and Education Minister and Wolf Foundation Council Chairman Gideon Sa’ar at the Israeli Knesset in May. Wolf prizes are also awarded in agriculture, chemistry, medicine, physics, and the arts.
“When I looked at the list of people who won the prize, I was honored. They were all my heroes,” said Sullivan. “This was impressive.”
Sullivan, an internationally renowned mathematician who also holds the Albert Einstein Chair in Science at the City University of New York Graduate Center, will share the 2010 Wolf Prize in Mathematics with another American, Professor Shing-Tung Yau of Harvard University, who was cited for his work in geometric analysis, which has had a profound and dramatic impact on many areas of geometry and physics.
“We are very impressed because this is one of the most respected prizes in mathematics and only the very best mathematicians in the world receive it,” said Leon A. Takhtajan, Chair of the Department of Mathematics.
Professor Mikhail Lyubich, Director of Stony Brook’s Institute for Mathematical Sciences, nominated Sullivan for the prize.
Since 1978 the Wolf Prize has been awarded 27 times to 253 scientists and artists from 23 countries. Ricardo Wolf, the late German-born inventor, diplomat, and philanthropist who served as Cuban ambassador to Israel, established the Wolf Foundation.
Sullivan has made fundamental contributions to many branches of mathematics, including homotopy theory, dynamical systems, Kleinian groups, and low dimensional topology. The scope of his ideas and influence has been truly remarkable.
In 2006 Sullivan received the American Mathematical Society’s Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, one of the highest distinctions in mathematics. Sullivan was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2004. He was also the recipient of the 1971 Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry, the 1981 Prix Élie Cartan of the French Academy of Sciences, and the King Faisal International Prize for Science in 1994.
Sullivan has been a member of the Stony Brook faculty since 1995.