Launched last December by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner, a Russian-born theoretical physicist and Internet entrepreneur, prizes were awarded to Simon Donaldson of Stony Brook University and Imperial College London, for his revolutionary invariants of four-dimensional manifolds and his study of the relation between stability in algebraic geometry and global differential geometry, both for bundles and for Fano varieties; Maxim Kontsevich of Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, for his work in a variety of mathematical disciplines, including algebraic geometry, deformation theory, symplectic topology, homological algebra, and dynamical systems; Jacob Lurie of Harvard University, for his work on the foundations of higher category theory and derived algebraic geometry, classification of fully extended topological quantum field theories, and moduli-theoretic interpretation of elliptic cohomology; Terence Tao of the University of California, Los Angeles, for his contributions to harmonic analysis, combinatorics, partial differential equations, and analytic number theory; and Richard Taylor of the Institute for Advanced Study, for his work in the theory of automorphic forms, including the Taniyama-Weil conjecture, the local Langlands conjecture for general linear groups, and the Sato-Tate conjecture. Each of the winners will receive $3 million and serve on the Breakthrough Prize selection committee in subsequent years.
"Mathematics is essential for driving human progress and innovation in this century," said Zuckerberg. "This year's Breakthrough Prize winners have made huge contributions to the field, and we're excited to celebrate their efforts."
"Mathematics is the most fundamental of the sciences — the language they are all written in," said Milner. "The best mathematical minds benefit us all by expanding the sphere of human knowledge."
The foundation also announced that Art Levinson will step down as chair of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation board and will be succeeded by Cori Bargmann, a leading neurobiologist at Rockefeller University and one of the inaugural winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.