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Nevanlinna Prize Winners

received the first Nevanlinna Prize for outstanding contributions to mathematical aspects of information science. "Pure mathematics enjoys the luxury of studying its constructions, whether finite or infinite, in complete independence of all questions of efficiency." explained Jacob Schwartz, who spoke on Tarjan's work. "By contrast, theoretical computer science must ultimately concern itself with computing engines which operate with limited speed and data storage, and therefore must take efficiency as one of its central concerns.

Two closely related activities, algorithm design and algorithm analysis, grow out of this inevitable concern."

The awards were announced in 1982 even though the Warsaw Congress was not held until 1983.


``Valiant has contributed in a decisive way to the growth of almost every branch of the fast growing young tree of theoretical computer science, his theory of counting problems being perhaps his most important and mature work''
Volker Strassen

A.A. Razborov (left), the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize winner, Hori and Lovász
Photo by A. Mizutani


  • Avi Wigderson of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The members of the Fields Medal Committee were: Luis Caffarelli, Masaki Kashiwara, Barry Mazur, David Mumford (chair), Alexander Schrijver, Dennis Sullivan, Jacques Tits, and S. R. S. Varadhan. The members of the Nevanlinna Prize Committee were: Hendrik Lenstra, Jacques-Louis Lions (chair), Yuri Matiyasevich, Robert Tarjan, and K. Yamaguti.

During the afternoon following the Opening Ceremonies, lectures about the contributions of the awardees were presented: Luis Caffarelli of the Institute for Advanced Study spoke on the work of Bourgain; S. R. S. Varadhan of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University spoke on the work of Lions; Adrien Douady of Université de Paris-Sud (Orsay) spoke on the work of Yoccoz; Walter Feit of Yale University spoke on the work of Zelmanov; and Yuri Matiyasevich of the Steklov Institute of Mathematics in St. Petersburg spoke on the work of Wigderson.


Peter Shor
(born 14 August 1959)

He is mathematician at the AT&T Labs in Florham Park, New Jersey (USA). His research interests include quantum computing, algorithmic geometry, and combinatorial analysis. After studying at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) he gained a doctorate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Before going to AT&T in 1986, he was postdoc for a year at the Mathematical Research Center in Berkeley, California (USA).

Peter Shor has carried out pioneering work in combination analysis and the theory of quantum computing. He received worldwide recognition in 1994 when he presented a computational method for "factorising large numbers" which, theoretically, could be used to break many of the coding systems currently employed. The drawback is that Shor's algorithm works on so-called quantum computers, of which only prototypes currently exist. Quantum computers do not operate like conventional ones, but make use of the quantum states of atoms, which offers a computing capacity far in excess of current parallel supercomputers. Shor's result unleashed a boom in research amongst physicists and computer scientists. Experts predict that quantum computers could already become a reality within the next decade, but this rapid development is also a cause of concern for some observers. Shor has been able to prove mathematically that the new computers would mean that current standard encrypting methods such as "RSA", which are used for electronic cash and on-line signatures would no longer be secure. "RSA" was developed in 1977 by the mathematicians Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adelmann (hence the acronym). It makes use of the fact that factorising a number is a so-called one-way function. This means that while it is very easy to make a large number from smaller ones, it is takes much longer to find all the factors of a large number. This time factor is the basis for the security offered by many encryption methods. Using Shor's algorithms, factorising large numbers on a quantum computer would be just as fast as multiplication. "RSA" and other procedures would no longer be safe. Experts have been making reassuring noises, since a lot of work remains to be done before such computers can even be constructed, but cryptographers are already working on the next generation of encryption techniques.

This document has been reproduced from

The Website of International Congress of Mathematicians, Berlin 1998.

Albers, Donald J.; Alexanderson, G. L.; Reid, Constance:
International mathematical congresses. An illustrated history 1893 - 1986
Rev. ed. including ICM 1986. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1986

with friendly permission from Springer Verlag

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