The Abel Prize

pp 183-189


  • Peter D. LaxAffiliated withCourant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University Email author 

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Like most mathematicians, I became fascinated with mathematics early, about age ten. I was fortunate that my uncle could explain matters that puzzled me, such as why minus times minus is plus—it follows from the laws of algebra.

Mathematics had a deep tradition in Hungary, going back to the epoch-making invention of non-Euclidean geometry by János Bolyai, an Hungarian genius in the early 19th century. To this day, the Hungarian mathematical community seeks out mathematically talented students through contests and a journal for high school students. Winners are then nurtured intensively. I was tutored by Rose Peter, an outstanding logician and pedagogue; her popular book on mathematics, “Playing with Infinity” is still the best introduction to the subject for the general public.

Mathematics Subject Classification (2000)

00-02 00A15 01A70