Russian Jewish mathematician rejects $1 million prize


(JTA) — A reclusive Russian Jewish mathematician turned down a $1 million prize for solving a seemingly unsolvable math problem.

Grigory "Grisha" Perelman told the Russian Interfax news agency on July 1 that he had turned down the prize for solving the Poincare conjecture from the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, Mass. The problem hypothesizes that any three-dimensional space without holes is a sphere.

Perelman reportedly said that he disagreed with the organized mathematics community and believed that an American mathematician had contributed to solving the problem.

Perelman had reported in 2003 that he had solved the problem, and by 2006 scholars worldwide had agreed and he  was awarded the most prestigious award in mathematics, a Fields Medal from the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid. Perelman, a recluse who by then had quit his job at the Steklov Mathematical Institute and moved in with his mother, did not show up for the award ceremony. 

The Clay Mathematics Institute prize money "will be used to benefit mathematics," according to the institute, which will announce how it is to be used in the fall.

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