Don picks up Royal Society prize

Oxford mathematician Andrew Wiles awarded the Copley Medal

The entrance to the Royal Society. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Oxford University Research Professor Andrew Wiles has been awarded the Copley Medal, the Royal Society’s oldest and most prestigious award.

The prize is awarded annually for outstanding achievement in scientific research.

Wiles is one of the world’s most prolific mathematicians, known for his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.

In 1993, after seven years of intense private study at Princeton University, Wiles announced he had found proof. In solving the puzzle of the Theorem, he created entirely new directions in mathematics.

Since then Wiles has won many prizes, including the Abel Prize in 2016—the Nobel Prize equivalent in mathematics.

Speaking about his latest award,Professor Wiles told Cherwell: “It is a great honour to receive the Copley medal and to join such a distinguished group of scientists and mathematicians.

“Although its history does not quite reach back to the age of Fermat it does include Gauss, Weierstrass, Klein and Cayley all of whose work I have used many times in my career as well as in the solution of Fermat’s problem.

“It is a particular pleasure to accept the award now that I am back researching in Oxford where I was a student.”

Martin Bridson, Head of the Oxford Mathematics Department—who got to know Wiles in Princeton in the early 1990s—said: “The award of the Copley Medal to Sir Andrew Wiles is a fitting recognition of the profound effect that his work has had on modern mathematics.

“He has received many other accolades following his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem in 1994, including the Abel Prize in 2016. But it is particularly pleasing to see his name added to the list of winners of the Royal Society’s oldest and most prestigious prize, alongside Benjamin Franklin, Dorothy Hodgkin, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin, as well as two of our illustrious emeriti, Sir Michael Atiyah and Sir Roger Penrose.”

Wiles studied at Oxford and Cambridge, before holding a professorship at Princeton University for nearly 30 years. In 2011, he moved back to Oxford as a Royal Society Research Professor.

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