Historical archive

Norway establishes fund forf international prize in mathematics, to commemorate Niels Henrik Abel

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 1st Government

Publisher The Office of the Prime Minister

Press release

No.: 155/2001
Date: 23 August 2001

Norway establishes fund for
international prize in mathematics,
to commemorate Niels Henrik Abel


- We need to strengthen mathematics and the sciences. Niels Henrik Abel was an internationally known Norwegian mathematician who nearly 200 years ago made a lasting impact in the world of science. An international prize in mathematics dedicated to his name, is an expression of the importance of mathematics, and is intended to encourage students and researchers.

The Norwegian Prime Minister, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, said this in Oslo today, following the Government’s decision to grant NOK 200 million (USD 22 million) to a fund for a new international prize in mathematics. The prize will be named after the leading 19 th>-century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829). The Abel Prize will be awarded annually, and is intended to present the field of mathematics with a prize on the highest level.

Mr. Stoltenberg announced the establishing of the Abel Prize in a lecture at the University of Oslo. The prize has been prepared by a group at the University’s mathematics department.

The Abel Prize Fund will be established at the 200th anniversary for Niels Henrik Abel’s birth, in 2002. The prize will have an initial capital of NOK 200 million (USD 22 million). The fund will be a state fund, where the annual yield shall cover the prize and a major award event. Laureates will be appointed by an independent committee of international mathematicians.

- The Norwegian Government is working to focus more on mathematics and science than what has been the case in recent years. The establishment of the Abel Prize is hoped to have several positive effects: increased interest among young people to study science, strengthening of the country’s research in the field of mathematics, increased awareness of Norway as a country of knowledge and learning, as well as positive international awareness, the Prime Minister said.

Large parts of the western world is now seeing a lack of interest in science subjects. A prize to commemorate Niels Henrik Abel is intended to underline the importance of mathematics and science. The plans to establish the prize have already seen wide support, in Norwegian as well as in international circles. Among others, the European Mathematical Society and the International Mathematical Society are behind the initiative. The prize will thus have both national and international support.

An Abel Prize was first proposed in 1902, by King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway. However, plans were dropped as the union between the two countries was dissolved in 1905. Thus, the field of mathematics has never had an international prize of the same dimensions and importance as the Nobel Prize.