University of Utah mathematician Christopher Hacon and three colleagues have won an American Mathematical Society prize for best research study – an honor so prestigious that it is awarded only once every three years.
“It’s definitely a big deal, and it’s great they chose to recognize my field of research,” Hacon, who studies algebraic geometry, said today after it was announced that he was one of four winners of the 2016 American Mathematical Society E.H. Moore Research Article Prize.
Hacon co-authored the prize-winning Journal of the American Mathematical Society research paper in 2010 with Caucher Birkar of the University of Cambridge, Paolo Cascini of Imperial College London, and James McKernan of the University of California, San Diego.
This is only the latest in a series of honors for Hacon. He was named a Simons Foundation Investigator in 2012. A year earlier, he won Italy’s top math honor, the Antonio Feltrinelli Prize in Mathematics, Mechanics and Applications. In 2009, Hacon and McKernan received the American Mathematical Society’s Frank Nelson Cole Prize in Algebra. In 2007, Hacon was among five mathematicians honored with a Clay Research Award for “major breakthroughs in mathematics research.” He was awarded a prestigious American Mathematical Society Centennial Research Fellowship during the 2006 academic year.
Hacon is a native of Manchester, England, He graduated from Italy’s University of Pisa with a B.A. degree in mathematics, and later earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in mathematics at UCLA. He was assistant professor at the University of Utah from 1998 to 2000, then at the University of California, Riverside from 2000 to 2002 before returning to Utah in 2002. Hacon was promoted to distinguished professor in 2010.
Below is the American Mathematical Society news release on Hacon’s latest honor.
AMERICAN MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY
Birkar, Cascini, Hacon, and McKernan to Receive 2016 AMS Moore Prize
Providence, RI—Caucher Birkar (University of Cambridge), Paolo Cascini (Imperial College London), Christopher D. Hacon (University of Utah), and James McKernan (UC San Diego) will receive the 2016 AMS E. H. Moore Research Article Prize. They are honored for their article “Existence of minimal models for varieties of log general type,” Journal of the AMS (2010).
The work of these four authors is in algebraic geometry, a branch of mathematics that investigates connections between numbers and shapes. A central notion is that of an algebraic variety, which is the solution set of a collection of polynomials. That solution set can be thought of as a geometric object, and the main motivation is to understand how the algebraic properties of the polynomials translate into geometric properties of the corresponding algebraic variety.
The “minimal model program”, which grew out of the work of Shigefumi Mori (Fields Medal, 1990) and others, has stimulated a great deal of research in algebraic geometry over the past 30 years. The aim of the program is to find a way of classifying algebraic varieties by finding representations of them that are in some sense the best, or simplest, representations. (See “What is a Minimal Model?” by János Kollár, Notices of the AMS, March 2007.)
Birkar, Cascini, Hacon, and McKernan made a major stride in advancing the minimal model program. The article cited above, together with its companion “Existence of minimal models for varieties of log general type II” by Hacon and McKernan, which appeared in the same issue of the Journal of the AMS, transformed research within the minimal model program. “Experts agree that the article together with its companion mark a watershed in algebraic geometry,” the prize citation says.
Presented every three years, the Moore Prize is awarded for an outstanding research article that appeared in one of the AMS primary research journals in the previous six years. The prize will be presented on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Seattle.
Mike Breen and Annette Emerson
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Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.