*MathWorld* Headline News

## Peter Lax Receives 2005 Abel Prize

### By Eric W. Weisstein

March 18, 2005--The 2005 Abel Prize in mathematics has been awarded to Peter D. Lax of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. The Abel prize is a mathematics prize of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, dedicated to the memory of Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829) on the occasion of the bicentenary of his birth. It is modeled after the Nobel Prize, and developed from a proposal by the mathematics department at the University of Oslo in fulfillment of a request formulated by the Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie towards the end of the 19th century. The Abel Prize has been awarded annually beginning in the year 2003.

Peter Lax was born in in Budapest, Hungary on May 1, 1926. He emigrated to New York with his parents in 1941, and subsequently received his Ph.D. in 1949 from New York University. In 1950, Lax went to Los Alamos for a year and later worked there as a consultant, but by 1951 he made his academic home at New York University, where he has undertaken his life's work at the Courant Institute (and where he served as director from 1972-1980). Lax has previously received many honors and awards for his work, including the Chauvenet Prize in 1974, the Norbert Wiener Prize of the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in 1975, the National Medal of Science in 1986, the Wolf Prize in 1987, and shared the American Mathematical Society's Steele Prize in 1992. In 1996, Lax was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society. Lax is also the author of textbooks on functional analysis, linear algebra, calculus, and partial differential equations.

Lax was awarded the Abel Prize "for his groundbreaking contributions to the theory and application of partial differential equations and to the computation of their solutions." In particular, Lax laid the foundations for the modern theory of nonlinear hyperbolic systems in the 1950s and 1960s. He constructed explicit solutions, identified classes of especially well-behaved systems, and studied of how solutions behave over a long period of time.

Lax's contributions to solitons, entropy, and shock waves are considered groundbreaking. One of many methods named after him is Lax pairs, which came from his analysis of fluid dynamics. His name is connected with many major mathematical results and numerical methods, including the Lax-Milgram theorem, Lax equivalence theorem, Lax-Friedrichs scheme, Lax-Wendroff scheme, Lax entropy condition, and Lax-Levermore theory.

Previous Abel Prize recipients include Jean-Pierre Serre in 2003, and Sir Michael Francis Atiyah and Isadore M. Singer in 2004.

ReferencesThe Abel Prize. http://www.abelprisen.no/en

The Abel Prize 2005. Press Releases and Biographies. http://www.abelprisen.no/en/prisvinnere/2005/documents/abelprize_2005_EN.pdf

Jackson, A. "Norway Establishes Abel Prize in Mathematics." *Not. Amer. Math. Soc.* **49**, 39-40, 2002.