Professor Sir Martin Hairer of Imperial College London received $ 3 million (£ 2.3 million) from Mark Zuckerberg’s Science Foundation for developing equations for stirring a cup of tea.
Professor Hairer, a British-Austrian dual citizen, won the Mathematics Breakthrough Prize in 2021.
The 44-year-old will receive his money and a trophy at a live awards ceremony that will take place next year.
The breakthrough awards were initiated by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Facebook founder Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner and his wife Julie Milner and Anne Wojcicki, the co-founders of 23andMe.
Professor Hairer said, “I was surprised, but obviously very honored. I’m very happy that I can inspire some people to study math or just understand a little better what math is about.
“Mathematics is truth. Once you discover something in mathematics, it is forever.”
He had previously won the Fields Medal in 2014 – often referred to as the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in Mathematics – and was knighted in 2016.
His work “focuses on generating equations to accurately describe seemingly random movements in time and space, how water droplets spread over the surface of a napkin, the growth of bacteria on a petri dish, or the chaotic activity of millions of people stock trading” , according to Imperial College London.
Professor Hairer, known as Stochastic Partial Differential Equations (PDEs), advanced the understanding of regularity structures that model random effects on physical systems and “effectively created an analytical toolkit for studying stochastic PDEs”.
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“While the exact details of the fluctuation in the stock market and the movement of the water atoms are very different, their probabilistic result is the same,” explained Professor Hairer.
He and his mathematician wife, Professor Xue-Mei Li, moved to London three years ago, where they are currently renting – although they said they plan to use the £ 2.3million price to buy a house.
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