Fields Medal
The Fields Medal is awarded every four years on the occasion of the
International Congress of Mathematicians to recognize outstanding
mathematical achievement for existing work and for the
promise of future achievement.
The Fields Medal Committee is chosen by the Executive Committee of the
International Mathematical Union and is normally chaired by the IMU President.
It is asked to choose at least two, with a strong preference for four, Fields Medallists,
and to have regard in its choice to representing a diversity of mathematical fields.
A candidate's 40th birthday must not occur before January 1st of the year of the
Congress at which the Fields Medals are awarded.
The name of the Chair of the Committee is made public, but the names of
other members of the Committee remain anonymous until the award
of the prize at the Congress. If a former student (Ph.D. thesis only)
of a Committee member is seriously considered, such a member shall not
continue to serve on the Committee for its final decision.
History of the Fields Medal
At the 1924 International Congress of Mathematicians in Toronto, a resolution
was adopted that at each ICM, two gold medals should be awarded to recognize
outstanding mathematical achievement. Professor J. C. Fields, a Canadian
mathematician who was Secretary of the 1924 Congress, later donated funds
establishing the medals, which were named in his honor.
In 1966 it was agreed that, in light of the great expansion of mathematical
research, up to four medals could be awarded at each Congress.
To obtain further details on the Fields Medal or on J. C. Fields, please refer to:
The following text by Eberhard Knobloch describes the design of the medal.
The Fields Medal
Obverse:
The head represents Archimedes facing right.
(1) In the field is the word in Greek capitals and
(2) the artist's monogram and date RTM, MCNXXXIII.
(3) The inscription reads: TRANSIRE SUUM PECTUS MUNDOQUE POTIRI.
The inscriptions mean: (1) "of Archimedes", namely the face of Archimedes.
(2) R(obert) T(ait) M(cKenzie), that is the name of the Canadian sculptor
who designed the medal. The correct date would read: "MCMXXXIII" or 1933.
The second letter M has to be substituted for the false N.
(3) "To transcend one's spirit and to take hold of (to master) the world".
Reverse:
The inscription on the tablet reads:
CONGREGATI EX TOTO ORBE MATHEMATICI
OB SCRIPTA INSIGNIA TRIBUERE
It means: "The mathematicians having congregated from the whole world
awarded (this medal) because of outstanding writings". The verb form "tribuere"
(the first "e" is a long vowel) is a short form of "tribuerunt".
In the background there is a representation of Archimedes'
sphere being inscribed in a cylinder.
Eberhard Knobloch, August 5, 1998 
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