L.E.J. Brouwer was perhaps The Netherlands’ most distinguished mathematician. Shortly after his death in 1966, the Royal Dutch Mathematical Society (KWG) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW) established a tri-annual event referred to as the Brouwer Prize. To that purpose, once every three years the KWG chooses a sub-field of mathematics and an expert committee then selects a lecturer from that field. If the selected person agrees to give this lecture, on that occasion he or she receives the Brouwer memorial medal^{1}.Traditionaly, this lecture is delivered during the annual Dutch Mathematical Congress.
The Brouwer lecture with the Brouwer medal is The Netherlands’ most prestigious award in mathematics and it also enjoys great international prestige. Previous laureates are given in the following table.
Year | Name | Field of mathematics |
1970 | R. Thom topology | topology |
1973 | A. Robinson | foundations |
1978 | A. Borel | Lie groups |
1981 | 1981 H. Kesten | probability theory |
1984 | 1984 J. Moser | analysis |
1987 | 1987 Y. Manin | number theory |
1990 | 1990 W.M. Wonham | control theory |
1993 | 1993 L. Lovász | discrete mathematics |
1996 | 1996 W. Hackbusch | numerical mathematics |
1999 | 1999 G. Lusztig | algebra |
2002 | 2002 M. Aizenman | mathematical physics |
2005 | 2005 L. Birgé | mathematical statistics |
2008 | 2008 P.A. Griffiths | geometry |
For 2011, the Society has selected the field of History of Mathematics. An expert committee consisting of Jan Hogendijk (chair), Teun Koetsier, Hendrik Lenstra, Jan van Maanen, Steven Wepster and Gert Vegter (in his capacity of president of the KWG) unanimously proposed Kim Plofker of the Department of Mathematics of Union College in Schenectady, USA as the 2011 Brouwer Lecturer. She is an expert in the History of Science in Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, and in Sanskrit. In 1995 she got her PhD degree under David Pingree at Brown University, USA. After that she worked in Cambridge (Massachusetts), Delhi and Utrecht. Her book ’Mathematics in India’ appeared in 2009 with Princeton University Press. She was invited speaker during the International Congress of Mathematicians 2010 in Hyderabad, India.
Kim Plofker will present the Brouwer lecture during this congres on Thursday evening and after her lecture she will receive the Brouwer medal. Her lecture will be preceded by a laudatio by the chair of the Brouwer committee Jan Hogendijk.
1 Originally this was made of pure gold but for economic reasons this year it is made of goldplated silver.