Full name
Grigori Yakovlevich Perelman
1966-06-03 Leningrad, Soviet Union
International Mathematical Olympiad high score
42—perfect score.1 One of only three awarded in the 23rd Olympiad in 19822
Notable work
Geometric topology
Riemannian geometry
Proved the Geometrization conjecture—and by extension also the Poincaré Conjecture3–6
Proved the Soul theorem7
2006: European Mathematical Society: Medal (declined)8
2006: Fields medal (declined)9
2010: Millennium Prize of USD 1,000,000 (declined)10
Erdős number, upper bound
Four: Erdös ↔︎ N. Linial ↔︎ J. Bourgain ↔︎ M. Gromov ↔︎ G. Perelman11

Little is known about the life of Grigori Perelman outside of his work in mathematics and mathematical upbringing. There are probably more accounts of failed communication attempts than actual interviews of him.

I personally find disgusting that many existing accounts of Perelman portray his life in a rather negative light (living with his mother and sister, never cutting his beard…) It also shows how some of these journalists only know a handful of scientists and among them the extroverts are probably overrepresented.

While it’s not the rule, it’s also not rare to find other introverts like Perelman—after all, the academic life can be lead with minimal human interaction and lots of alone time.

I had a professor much like him last year. The only time I ever entered his office, I couldn’t make heads or tails of the paper he was reading, or even the abstract. I only know it was about optics because it was part of the journal name. What was he working on? Impossible to know now, but I couldn’t shake the idea that a man much like him but on the other side of the world one day announced this astonishing result. Who else could be the next?

Probably another silent person that has «eccentricities».

An approximation to eAndy’s Brevity Quest 2019 (295 words) → (None)


1. International Mathematical Olympiad, ed. Grigorij perelman: Individual ranking. https://www.imo-official.org/participant_r.aspx?id=10481. Published 2006. Accessed July 29, 2019.

2. International Mathematical Olympiad, ed. 23rd imo 1982–individual results. https://www.imo-official.org/year_individual_r.aspx?year=1982&column=total&order=desc. Published 2006. Accessed July 29, 2019.

3. Perelman G. The entropy formula for the ricci flow and its geometric applications. ArXiV preprint. November 2002. http://arxiv.org/abs/http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0211159v1.

4. Perelman G. Ricci flow with surgery on three-manifolds. ArXiV preprint. March 2003. http://arxiv.org/abs/http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0303109v1.

5. Perelman G. Finite extinction time for the solutions to the ricci flow on certain three-manifolds. ArXiV preprint. July 2003. http://arxiv.org/abs/http://arxiv.org/abs/math/0307245v1.

6. Mackenzie D. The poincaré conjecture–proved. Science. 2006;314(5807):1848-1849. doi:10.1126/science.314.5807.1848.

7. Perelman G. Proof of the soul conjecture of cheeger and gromoll. Journal of Differential Geometry. 1994;40(1):209-212. doi:10.4310/jdg/1214455292.

8. BBC News, ed. Maths genius declines top prize: Grigory perelman, the russian who seems to have solved one of the hardest problems in mathematics, has declined one of the discipline’s top awards. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5274040.stm. Published August 22, 2006. Accessed July 29, 2019.

9. Nasar S, Gruber D. Manifold destiny: A legendary problem and the battle over who solved it. The New Yorker. August 2006. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/08/28/manifold-destiny. Accessed July 23, 2019.

10. BBC News, ed. Russian maths genius grigory perelman, who declined a prestigious international award four years ago, is under new pressure to accept a prize. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8585407.stm. Published March 24, 2010. Accessed July 23, 2019.

11. Oakland University, ed. The erdös number project: Collaboration paths to paul erdös: Fields medalists. https://oakland.edu/enp/erdpaths/collaboration-paths-to-paul-erdos. Published April 9, 2015. Accessed July 29, 2019.

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