FACULTY HONOR: Wiles receives 2016 Abel Prize

March 16, 2016 3 p.m.

Andrew Wiles, an Oxford University mathematics professor and Princeton University's James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, has received the 2016 Abel Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for providing a proof for Fermat's Last Theorem in 1994. Wiles joined Princeton's Department of Mathematics as a professor in 1982, and served as the Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics from 1994 to 2011 when he went to Oxford. He also was department chair from 2005 to 2011. Wiles is the third Abel Prize recipient in a row associated with Princeton: The 2014 prize went to Professor of Mathematics Yakov Sinai, and late University mathematician John Nash shared the 2015 prize with Louis Nirenberg of New York University.

At the time Wiles solved Fermat's Last Theorem it was the most famous, long-running unsolved problem in mathematics, having been first conjectured by French mathematician Pierre de Fermat in 1637. Beginnning in 1986, Wiles worked on the theorem in secret, collaborating on the final proof with his former student Richard Taylor, who received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton in 1988. According to the Abel Committee, "few results have as rich a mathematical history and as dramatic a proof as Fermat’s Last Theorem." Wiles will receive the Abel Prize from Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, in Oslo on May 24.