The Brouwer Lecture and the Brouwer Medal

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 medal1.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.