Maxim Kontsevich wins the Shaw Prize

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Maxim Kontsevich won the 2012 Shaw Prize for “for his pioneering works in algebra, geometry and mathematical physics and in particular deformation quantization, motivic integration and mirror symmetry”.

Dr.  Maxim Kontsevich

What’s the Shaw Prize?  It’s a new award which was started in 2002 by Run Run Shaw, a Hong Kong media mogul.

Fun facts:  Mr. Shaw was a co-executive producer of the film Blade Runner and he has an asteroid named after him (2899 Runrun Shaw).

They give an award each year to someone in each of Astronomy, Life Sciences and Medicine, and Mathematics.

Oh, and the winners get $1,000,000.

They didn’t mention it in his Shaw prize announcement, but one of our favorite bits of Dr. Kontsevich’s work is the Kontsevich Integral.  This is a way of constructing finite type knot invariants (aka Vassiliev Invariants) which can be computed using pictures called “chord diagrams”.  If you’d like to know more, email Patrick Orchard and ask him about his Honor’s thesis.

To read more about the Shaw prize, check out this article (although we have to object to the author, Dennis Normile, editorializing in his use of the word “Esoteric” :-)).