# László Erdős and Horng-Tzer Yau to receive 2017 AMS Eisenbud Prize

November 28, 2016László Erdős of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria and Horng-Tzer Yau (of Harvard University will receive the 2017 AMS Leonard Eisenbud Prize for Mathematics and Physics. The two are honored "for proving the universality of eigenvalue statistics of Wigner random matrices."

A matrix is a two-dimensional array of numbers. For example, data about the height and weight of members of a certain population could be arranged as entries in a matrix. Matrices are used across all areas science and engineering to represent quantitative information. Their spectrum, or eigenvalues, comprise the essential properties of these data.

In the 1950s, physicist Eugene Wigner, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize, was studying energy levels in atomic nuclei. Because it was not possible at that time to predict these energy levels based on fundamental physical principles, Wigner represented their statistical behavior by the eigenvalues of a matrix in which the entries were chosen at random. This was an extraordinary leap of intuition. Wigner's insight has turned out to be very useful and has been verified in many different experimental situations. Nevertheless, scientists still cannot prove exactly why it models physical reality so well.

Since that time, random matrices have been used across many areas of physics and, more recently, in such areas as statistical analysis, finance, wireless communications, and materials science. These developments, together with mysterious connections observed between random matrices and prime numbers, have led to the burgeoning of random matrix theory as a major subject within mathematics.

There are many different ways of randomly choosing the entries in a random matrix. In simulations of large random matrices, researchers observed the same statistical patterns emerging from the matrices, regardless of which way was used for the random choice of the entries. These patterns seemed to be "universal," and the question of whether the observations could be nailed down in a mathematical proof became known as the "universality conjecture."

It is this conjecture that Erdős and Yau settled in their prize-winning work, an amazing feat that has received wide acclaim from scientists and mathematicians.

Born in Budapest in 1966, László Erdős completed university education in mathematics at the Lorand Eötvös University in 1990 and a PhD at Princeton University in 1994. After postdoctoral positions in Zurich and New York, he joined the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2003, he was appointed to a chair professorship at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. Since 2013 he has been a professor at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, near Vienna. He was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians (2014), and is a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, an external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and a member of the Academia Europaea.

Born in Taiwan in 1959, Horng-Tzer Yau received his B.Sc. in 1981 from National Taiwan University and his PhD in 1987 from Princeton University. The following year, he joined the faculty of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. In 2003, he moved to Stanford University and then in 2005 assumed his present position as professor of mathematics at Harvard University. He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1987-88, 1991-92, and 2003, and was an IAS Distinguished Visiting Professor in 2013-14. Yau was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences (2013) and received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award (2000).

Presented every three years, the AMS Eisenbud Prize recognizes a work or group of works that brings mathematics and physics closer together. The prize will be awarded Thursday, January 5, 2017, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta.

-end-

Find out more about AMS prizes and awards at http://www.ams.org/profession/prizes-awards/prizes.Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.

American Mathematical Society

**Related Mathematics Articles:**

A new method for boosting the learning of mathematics

How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

How can mathematics learning in primary school be facilitated? UNIGE has developed an intervention to promote the learning of math in school.

Could mathematics help to better treat cancer?

Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

Impaired information processing may prevent cells from perceiving their environment correctly; they then start acting in an uncontrolled way and this can lead to the development of cancer.

People can see beauty in complex mathematics, study shows

Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Ordinary people see beauty in complex mathematical arguments in the same way they can appreciate a beautiful landscape painting or a piano sonata.

Improving geothermal HVAC systems with mathematics

Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

Sustainable heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, such as those that harness low-enthalpy geothermal energy, are needed to reduce collective energy use and mitigate the continued effects of a warming climate.

How the power of mathematics can help assess lung function

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new computational way of analyzing X-ray images of lungs, which could herald a breakthrough in the diagnosis and assessment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung diseases.

Mathematics pushes innovation in 4-D printing

New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

New mathematical results will provide a potential breakthrough in the design and the fabrication of the next generation of morphable materials.

More democracy through mathematics

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

For democratic elections to be fair, voting districts must have similar sizes.

How to color a lizard: From biology to mathematics

Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

Skin color patterns in animals arise from microscopic interactions among colored cells that obey equations discovered by Alan Turing.

US educators awarded for exemplary teaching in mathematics

Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Janet Heine Barnett, Caren Diefenderfer, and Tevian Dray were named the 2017 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award winners by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) for their teaching effectiveness and influence beyond their institutions.

Authors of year's best books in mathematics honored

Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

Prizes for the year's best books in mathematics were awarded to Ian Stewart and Tim Chartier by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) on Jan.

## Trending Science News

**Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News**

## Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the**top science podcasts of 2020**.

**Now Playing: TED Radio Hour**

**Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces**

How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.

**Now Playing: Science for the People**

**#576 Science Communication in Creative Places**

When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...

**Now Playing: Radiolab**

**What If?**

There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate. You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.