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Saturday, March 29, 2008

WHAT IS THE TITS BUILDING ???

John Griggs Thompson, Graduate Research Professor, University of Florida, and Jacques Tits, Professor Emeritus, Collège de France, have been awarded the 2008 Abel Prize "for their profound achievements in algebra and in particular for shaping modern group theory." In the prize citation, the Abel Committee writes that "Thompson revolutionized the theory of finite groups by proving extraordinarily deep theorems that laid the foundation for the complete classification of finite simple groups, one of the greatest achievements of twentieth century mathematics." In 1963, Thompson and Walter Feit proved that all nonabelian finite simple groups were of even order, work for which they both won the Frank Nelson Cole Prize in Algebra from the AMS in 1965. Thompson also won a Fields Medal in 1970. In the Abel citation for Tits, the committee writes that "Tits created a new and highly influential vision of groups as geometric objects. He introduced what is now known as a Tits building, which encodes in geometric terms the algebraic structure of linear groups." The committee noted the link between the two winners' work: "Tits’s geometric approach was essential in the study and realization of the sporadic groups, including the Monster." Tits received the Grand Prix of the French Academy of Sciences in 1976, and the Wolf Prize in Mathematics in 1993. The Abel Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters for outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics. The prize amount is 6,000,000 Norwegian kroner (over US$1,000,000). Thompson and Tits will receive their prize in a ceremony in Oslo on May 20, 2008. See the Abel Prize website for more information about the laureates, their work, and the prize.

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