John W. “Jack” Milnor, Professor of Mathematics and Co-director of the Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Stony Brook, has been awarded The American Mathematical Society’s (AMS) prestigious Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement. The award, presented during the recent AMS Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans, is among the world’s most prestigious honors given for outstanding contributions to mathematics. The award includes a $5,000 prize.
“The AMS Lifetime Achievement Award is a well-deserved honor and recognition,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D. “Jack’s continuous contributions to his field constitute a tremendous legacy, he is an outstanding member of the Stony Brook community, and we are very proud of his accomplishments.”
The citation that accompanied the Lifetime Achievement award noted that Milnor “stands out from the list of great mathematicians in terms of his overall achievements and his influence on mathematics in general, both through his work and through his excellent books.”
“It is a particular pleasure to receive an award for what one enjoys doing anyway,” Milnor said. “I have been very lucky to have had so many years to explore and enjoy some of the many highways and byways of mathematics, and I want to thank the three institutions that have supported and inspired me for most of the past 60 years: Princeton University, where I learned to love mathematics; the Institute for Advanced Study for many years of uninterrupted research; and Stony Brook University, where I was able to reconnect with students and, to some extent, with teaching.
“I am very grateful to my many teachers, from Ralph Fox and Norman Steenrod long ago to Adrien Douady in more recent years, and I want to thank the family, friends, students, colleagues, and collaborators who have helped me over the years. Finally, my grateful thanks to the selection committee for this honor.”
Milnor had previously won two other Steele Prizes from the AMS, for Mathematical Exposition (2004) and for Seminal Contribution to Research (1982).
Milnor spent his undergraduate and graduate student years at Princeton, studying knot theory under the supervision of Ralph Fox. He received an A.B. and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton. After many years at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study, with shorter stays at UCLA and MIT, he settled at Stony Brook. He has studied game theory, differential geometry, algebraic topology, differential topology, quadratic forms, and algebraic K-theory. For the past 25 years, his main focus has been on dynamical systems and particularly on low dimensional holomorphic dynamical systems. Among his current projects is the preparation of a book to be called Dynamics, Introductory Lectures. Five volumes of his older collected papers have been published by the AMS.
A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he has also won the Fields Medal—the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics awarded to mathematicians under the age of 40 by the International Congress of the International Mathematical Union—and the Wolf Prize in Mathematics, Israel’s highest honor in mathematics.