Bill Thurston receives prestigious mathematics prize


William Thurston, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Mathematics, received the 2012 AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for a Seminal Contribution to Research, at the Joint Mathematics Meeting in Boston, Jan. 5.

Presented annually by the American Mathematical Society, the Steele Prize is one of the highest distinctions in mathematics.

Thurston was honored for his contributions to low dimensional topology. The prize citation mentions in particular his series of highly original papers that started with "Hyperbolic Structures on 3-manifolds I: Deformation of Acylindrical Manifolds," which appeared in Annals of Mathematics in 1986.

The papers, the citation says, "revolutionized 3-manifold theory. [They] transformed the field from a subfield of combinatorial topology to a web of connections between topology, complex analysis, dynamical systems and hyperbolic geometry."

Thurston, who joined the Cornell faculty in 2003 from the University of California-Davis, was the recipient, in 1982, of the Fields Medal, one of the highest honors a mathematician can receive, for his work on manifolds, a generalization of surfaces. Thurston received his bachelor's degree in 1967 at New College in Sarasota, Fla., and his doctorate in 1972 at the University of California-Berkeley. He has taught at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, UC-Berkeley and UC-Davis.

The full citation and additional information can be found online.