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Professor Sir Andrew Wiles FRS

Andrew Wiles awarded Royal Society's Copley Medal

May 2017

Professor Sir Andrew Wiles (1971) has been awarded the Royal Society's Copley Medal, the world’s oldest scientific prize, for his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, a major mathematical breakthrough of the 20th century.

In response, Professor Wiles said:

"I feel extremely honoured to receive this prize which has been awarded to so many distinguished scientists and mathematicians. The list does not quite stretch back to Fermat but it does include Gauss, Klein and Weierstrass among others, whose work I have used over and over during my career. I am most grateful to the Royal Society for selecting me this year."

The President of the Royal Society Venki Ramakrishnan said:

"Sir Andrew is a well-deserved recipient of the Copley Medal, the Royal Society’s most prestigious prize. In proving Fermat's Last Theorem—a problem that had remained unsolved for hundreds of years—he not only made a major mathematical breakthrough, but also captured the imagination of the public. This is an inspirational story of a highly creative intellectual pursuit and the satisfaction of solving a deep fundamental problem in mathematics. He is a hero to an entire generation of mathematicians. The Royal Society is delighted to recognise this achievement."

Professor Wiles has received many other awards and accolades in recognition of his work, including the 2016 Abel Prize—considered the Nobel Prize of Mathematics—from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Since 2011 he has been an active member of Oxford's number theory research group; currently he is developing new ideas in the context of the Langlands Program, a set of far-reaching and influential conjectures connecting number theory to algebraic geometry and the theory of automorphic forms.

The Copley Medal, first awarded in 1731, has been presented to such notable figures as Darwin, Faraday, Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Dorothy Hodgkin and Francis Crick. In 2014 the medal was awarded to another Mertonian, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys (1968), in recognition of his pioneering work on variation and mutation in the human genome.

Photo: © Alain Goriely/Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford