Russian mathematician rejects $1 million prize

Grigory Perelman
Grigory Perelman

(AP) -- He said nyet to $1 million. Grigory Perelman, a reclusive Russian mathematics genius who made headlines earlier this year for not immediately embracing a lucrative math prize, has decided to decline the cash.

Perelman's decision was announced Thursday by the Clay Institute in Cambridge, Mass., which had awarded Perelman its Millennium .

The award honors his solving of the Poincare (pwan-kah-RAY) conjecture, which deals with shapes that exist in four or more dimensions.

Jim Carlson, institute president, said Perelman's decision was not a complete surprise, since he had declined some previous math prizes.

Carlson said Perelman had told him by telephone last week of his decision and gave no reason. But the Interfax news agency quoted Perelman as saying he believed the prize was unfair. Perelman told Interfax he considered his contribution to solving the Poincare conjecture no greater than that of mathematician Richard Hamilton.

"To put it short, the main reason is my disagreement with the organized mathematical community," Perelman, 43, told Interfax. "I don't like their decisions, I consider them unjust."

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Perelman, a resident of St. Petersburg, were unsuccessful.

Carlson said institute officials will meet this fall to decide what to do with the prize money. "We have some ideas in mind," he said. "We want to consider that carefully and make the best use possible of the money for the benefit of mathematics."

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'Nyet' to $1 million? Math genius may reject award

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Jul 01, 2010
Wow, that man has very strong principles. At first I think he's crazy for not taking the money, then I'm impressed because I know that I couldn't reject such a prize because of my principles.

Jul 01, 2010
Mathematicians usually exist way out there, they have to, to do what they do. I love this guy.

Jul 01, 2010
Yeah he couldve donated to charity or whatnot.

Jul 01, 2010
... he could've donated it to Hamilton :-) But I bet Hamilton would not accept it from him since he is another man of strong principles.

Jul 01, 2010
I thought his reasons for refusing may be due to the government collecting 50%-100% of the prize money had he accepted.

Jul 02, 2010
It not about the money it is about the unjust way the organization makes their judgment (America will never understand). His belief is as valid as any supposedly great organization's. At least this man puts his mouth where his beliefs stands. Which is a lot greater than any of our world leaders.

Jul 02, 2010
Generally in math and science they give prizes for "breakthrough" work to one person (or a team of 2-3), when really the work was done by at least dozens of people over many years.

I don't know about this prize in particular, but he may have a point.

That being said, he could have taken the money and used his acceptance speech to give credit to the other guy. Or he could have given the other guy half the money!

Jul 02, 2010
Yes, he could have done it some other way, however, it's likely that the rout he chose made the strongest statement.

I applaud him. He seems to be both a genius and a saint.

Jul 02, 2010
Maybe he just afraid of Petersburg mafia for killing him for that money. He's very fearful freak, who suffers with many paranoias. Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory is a big hero with compare to him.

Jul 04, 2010
The Clay Institute could set up a mathematics scholarship in both St Petersburg and Columbia University, one in Perelman's name and the other in Hamilton's name.
That would honour both and in their home towns.
One must admire and respect the moral integrity of Perelman.
There are too few people with that level of personal integrity.
The more Perelman types the better the world will be

Jul 04, 2010
great book

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