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Alexei Borodin receives the 2015 Henri Poincaré Prize

Mathematics professor honored for contributions to mathematical physics that lay the groundwork for new developments in the field.
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Alexei Borodin
Alexei Borodin
Photo: Bryce Vickmark

Alexei Borodin, professor of mathematics at MIT, has been awarded the prestigious 2015 Henri Poincaré Prize by the International Association of Mathematical Physics.

The award’s citation reads, “Alexei Borodin is honored for his seminal contributions to the theory of big groups, to determinantal processes and most notably to the elucidation of Macdonald processes, which have important applications to the statistical physics of directed polymers, tiling models and random surfaces.”

Borodin’s research lies at the interface of group representation theory, the study of symmetries, and probability theory. Using sophisticated mathematical tools, he is able to show that many previously intractable probabilistic systems are in fact integrable — or exactly solvable. In this way he is able to extract detailed information from what appear to be random structures. “The results often predict similar behavior for much broader varieties of probabilistic objects,” Borodin says. “This is much like the bell-shaped curve that arises from flipping a coin that ends up being the universal limiting object in one-dimensional probability.”

The Henri Poincaré Prize is one of the most distinguished awards in mathematical physics, awarded every three years at the International Mathematical Physics Congress.

Prior recipients of the prize include a number of Fields Medalists, MacArthur Foundation Fellows, and Heineman Prize winners, including notable scholars such as Freeman Dyson, Maxim Kontsevich and Edward Witten, according to Tomasz Mrowka, head of the Department of Mathematics at MIT. “We congratulate Alexei on his award,” Mrowka says.

Borodin was also awarded the 2015 Line and Michel Loève International Prize in Probability. A graduate of Moscow State University, he received a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, studying under Alexandre Kirilov. In 2003 Borodin was appointed professor of mathematics at Caltech, where he remained until 2010. During this time he was awarded the Prize of the Moscow Mathematical Society and the Prize of the European Mathematical Society. He joined the MIT mathematics faculty in 2010.

The Henri Poincaré Prize, which is sponsored by the Daniel Iagolnitzer Foundation, was created in 1997. It is awarded every three years to several individuals, each of whom has made a contribution to mathematical physics that lays the groundwork for new developments in the field.

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