The 2003 CRM-Fields Prize awarded to John McKay and Edwin Perkins
The two joint winners of the CRM-Fields prize for mathematics for 2002-2003 are John McKay and Edwin Perkins.
The work of Professor John McKay of Concordia University centers around the properties of finite groups, their representations and their symmetries. He has been at the origin of several of the most startling discoveries in mathematics of our time, and is world-renowned for launching two areas of mathematics by his observations and conjectures, one known as the McKay correspondence, and the other going under the fanciful name of monstrous moonshine, underlying the role of the largest sporadic simple group which is known as the monster. His wide knowledge and culture of mathematics has allowed him to bring to the fore questions which have been deeply influential in the subsequent development of the discipline, for example the work of Richard Borcherds which was recognised by a Fields medal at the 1998 International Congress of Mathematicians. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Professor McKay, amongst other achievements, is a pioneer in the use of computers as a tool in algebra, either in the study of sporadic groups (he is the co-discoverer of two such groups) or in the explicit computation of Galois groups. He was also one of the actors in one of the feats of computational algebra of our time, the proof of the non-existence of a projective plane of order 10.
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Manchester, he went on to obtain a doctorate in computer science in Edinburgh. He held appointments at the Atlas laboratory in England, at Caltech and at McGill University before moving to Concordia in 1974.
Edwin Perkins (UBC) received his B.Sc. in mathematics from the University ofToronto in 1975 and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois (Urbana)in 1979. He is currently Professor of Mathematics and holds a Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia, where he has been since 1979. He received the Rollo Davidson prize for young probabilists in 1983, and the Canadian Mathematical Society’s Coxeter-James and Jeffrey-Williams Prizes in 1986 and 2002. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1988 and held an NSERC Steacie Fellowship during 1992-94.
Edwin Perkins has made outstanding contributions to several areas of probability theory and is one of the world’s leading probabilists. Much of his early work concerned the delicate analysis of the sample paths of stochastic processes. His most spectacular achievements are his contributions to the analysis of measure-valued diffusions, or “superprocesses,” where he has been a pioneer in the development of the field. His accomplishments include deep and surprising results about the support of super-Brownian motion including identification of its Hausdorff dimension, the identification of the historical process as the correct way to understand genealogy in superprocesses, and the construction of a class of interacting superprocesses.