According to the Abel committee, which cited Milnor’s “pioneering discoveries in topology, geometry, and algebra”:
“All of Milnor’s works display marks of great research: profound insights, vivid imagination, elements of surprise, and supreme beauty."Milnor’s discovery of exotic smooth spheres in seven dimensions was completely unexpected. It signaled the arrival of differential topology and an explosion of work by a generation of brilliant mathematicians; this explosion has lasted for decades and changed the landscape of mathematics." … Click here to read the full citation
Philip Ball of Nature wrote that the committee “wisely avoided singling out a particular achievement” in Milnor’s illustrious, wide-ranging career. “In effect,” Ball wrote, “this is a recognition that he has contributed to maths across the board.”
If the honor and the high praise sound familiar, perhaps that’s because a fellow alumnus, John Tate *50, won the Abel Prize a year ago (and also was recognized as our Tiger of the Week). Since the prize was first awarded in 2003, there have been 11 Abel laureates. Milnor and Tate are the only Princetonians.
Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.