Caffarelli, who is from Argentina, is the first Latin American mathematician to receive the award.

Mathematics’ Highest Prize Awarded to UT Professor from Argentina

  • Mar 28, 2023

[Editor's Note: This story is part of a Texas Global series celebrating UT Austin faculty members whose work has received international honors or awards.]

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has named Luis A. Caffarelli, a professor of mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin, winner of the 2023 Abel Prize, considered the Nobel Prize equivalent in mathematics and one of the top international awards.  

Norway’s King Harald V will present the Abel Prize to Caffarelli at an award ceremony in Oslo, Norway, on May 23. Caffarelli, who is from Argentina, is the first Latin American mathematician to receive the award. 

“For more than a quarter century here at UT, Luis Caffarelli has introduced ingenious new techniques that show brilliant geometrical insight,” said Jay Hartzell, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “I can’t think of a worthier selection for the highest honor in mathematics. Changing the world starts with understanding the world, and Luis has helped to advance humanity’s understanding of some of the most formidable problems in all of mathematics. His academic family tree is part of his impact and story, too, as he has mentored dozens of stellar mathematical minds.” 

Caffarelli, who holds the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Mathematics #1 at UT Austin, has contributed extensively to our understanding of partial differential equations (PDEs) and free boundary problems. PDEs arise naturally as laws of nature, to describe phenomena as diverse as the flow of water, the shape of soap bubbles, the movement of electromagnetic waves and the growth of populations. 

The Abel Prize recognizes achievements in mathematics at any stage of a mathematician’s career and comes with a monetary award of 7.5 million Norwegian kroner, or approximately $710,000. 

A core member of the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences and member of the National Academy of Sciences, Caffarelli has won many of his field’s top prizes and honors since joining UT Austin in 1997, including the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Mathematics, the Wolf Prize and the Shaw Prize.  

“Luis is one of the most deserving mathematicians alive today and one of the best mathematicians working on partial differential equations in this century or the last,” said Thomas Chen, chair of the Department of Mathematics at UT Austin. “He has trained many people who have reached the top of mathematical excellence.” 

Read more from UT News.