2022 Fields Medal winners

Nigel Cummings

The Fields Medals and other International Mathematical Union (IMU) prizes are normally announced at the opening of the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), which takes place every four years. This year’s congress was scheduled to begin on 6 July in St. Petersburg but, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the awards ceremony was moved to Helsinki and the congress took place as a virtual event.

The four winners were: Ukrainian number theorist Maryna Viazovska, 37; James Maynard, 35, a number theorist at the University of Oxford; June Huh, 39, a specialist in combinatorics at Princeton University; and Hugo DuminilCopin, 36, who studies statistical physics at the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies (IHES) near Paris.

Maryna Viazovska is based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and is only the second woman to be awarded in its 86-year history. She is best known for her solution to the sphere packing problem. Initially identified by Johannes Kepler who wanted to know the best way of packing oranges in a box (i.e. in three dimensions) Viazovska extended this first to eight dimensions and then to 24.



James Maynard is known for breakthrough discoveries about the spacing of prime numbers – a number of his results were viewed as pure fantasy before he announced them. His citation from the Fields Medal committee says that he “made spectacular contributions in analytic number theory”. He has proved that there are an infinite number of pairs of primes that are 246 places apart. The aim is to prove there are infinitely many pairs that are just two places apart (i.e. 3, 5; 11, 13; 41,43;…)

Hugo Duminil-Copin achieved a number of fundamental results on a mathematical model which “describes how a piece of iron loses its magnetisation when it reaches a certain temperature,” says his former mentor Wendelin Werner, a mathematician at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich.

June Huh’s citation said that, together with colleagues, he had “transformed the field of geometric combinatorics”. He did so by importing tools from another field of maths, algebraic geometry.

At a satellite conference to the ICM on 2 July, another Ukrainian-born woman, Svetlana Jitomirskaya at the University of California at Irvine, won the inaugural Ladyzhenskaya Prize in Mathematical Physics – the first major prize for the discipline to be named after a woman but open to people of either sex. The prize celebrates the late Russian mathematician Olga Ladyzhenskaya, who narrowly missed out on her own Fields Medal in 1958. Before Viazovska, the only woman to win a Fields Medal was the late Maryam Mirzakhani, in 2014.