Mathematician Hugo Duminil-Copin crowns great year for French science

© Dhananjay Khadilkar

Hugo Duminil-Copin became the latest mathematics professor from the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHES) to win the prestigious Fields Medal, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematicians.

The 37-year-old, who specialises in probability theory, shared this year's award with three other mathematicians - June Huh, James Maynard and Maryna Viazovska.

IHES now holds the unique distinction of producing eight Fields Medal winners since its founding in 1958. Duminil-Copin, who joined IHES in 2016, says the years he spent at the institute were the most productive years of his liefe as a researcher.

"I think it's due to the combination of the visitors' programme which allows me to bring people to work with me. But you also have time for yourself to do your own research," Duminil-Copin told RFI. As part of the visitors' programme, permament professors at IHES can invite experts from their respective domains for research collaboration. Moreover, professors at IHES have no teaching responsibilities.

What also makes the institute unique is its location. It is situated in 25 acres of greenery in the suburb of Bures-sur-Yvettes, around 30 km south of Paris. According to Duminil-Copin, the researchers get a bit isolated from the rest of the world. "It is important as it allows your mind to go places which you won't necessarily do in the middle of an intense city life. It allows you to put yourself in a meditative state which is important for the members of the institute and its productivity."


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