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Lennart Carleson Wins the 2006 Abel Prize

Lennart Carleson Wins the 2006 Abel Prize

The winner of the 2006 Abel Prize is Lennart Carleson of the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. The six million Kroner prize, which is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, comes out to a little more than nine hundred thousand dollars. The Abel Committee citation says that Carleson is receiving the prize for his contributions to harmonic analysis and to the theory of smooth dynamical systems. The Committee says that “Carleson is always far ahead of the crowd. He concentrates on only the most difficult and deep problems. Once these are solved, he lets others invade the kingdom he has discovered, and he moves on to even wilder and more remote domains of Science.”

The committee specifically mentioned Carleson's famous result on Fourier series: “In 1966, to the surprise of the mathematical community, Carleson broke the decades-long impasse by proving Lusin's conjecture that every square-integrable function, and thus in particular every continuous function, equals the sum of its Fourier series “almost everywhere.” The proof of this result is so difficult that for over thirty years it stood mostly isolated from the rest of harmonic analysis. It is only within the past decade that mathematicians have understood the general theory of operators into which this theorem fits and have started to use his powerful ideas in their own work.”

Carleson has, of course, done quite a lot of valuable and important mathematics since then, ranging over harmonic analysis, complex analysis, the theory of quasiconformal mappings, and dynamical systems. He is also known for his solution of the corona problem, “so called because it examines structures that become apparent “around” a disk when the disk itself is “obscured,” for his work on Fourier multipliers, and for his work, with Benedicks, on the Hénon strange attractor.

King Harald of Norway will present the Abel prize at a special ceremony to be held in Oslo on May 23. The ceremony will be followed by the full-day Abel Lectures, to be held at the University of Oslo on May 24, and the Abel Party, on May 27. For more information, including an expository account of Carleson's work by Marcus du Sautoy, visit

News Date: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2006