Sir Andrew John Wiles KBE FRS is a British mathematician and a professor at Princeton University, specializing in number theory. He is most famous for proving Fermat’s Last Theorem. Andrew Wiles is the son of Maurice Frank Wiles (1923–2005), the Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and Patricia Wiles. His father worked as the Chaplain at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, for the years 1952-55. Wiles was born in Cambridge, England, in 1953, and he attended King’s College School, Cambridge, and The Leys School, Cambridge. Wiles discovered Fermat’s Last Theorem on his way home from school when he was 10 years old. He stopped by his local library where he found a book about the theorem. Puzzled by the fact that the statement of the theorem was so easy that he, a ten-year old, could understand it, he decided to be the first person to prove it. However, he soon realized that his knowledge of mathematics was too small, so he abandoned his childhood dream, until 1986, when he heard that Ribet had proved Serre’s ε-conjecture and therefore established a link between Fermat’s Last Theorem and the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture. Wiles earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1974 after his study at Merton College, Oxford, and a Ph.D. in 1980, after his research at Clare College, Cambridge. After a stay at the Institute for Advanced Study in New Jersey in 1981, Wiles became a professor at Princeton University. In 1985-86, Wiles was a Guggenheim Fellow at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques near Paris and at the École Normale Supérieure. From 1988 to 1990, Wiles was a Royal Society Research Professor at Oxford University, and then he returned to Princeton. In October 2009 it was announced that Wiles would again become a Royal Society Research Professor at Oxford in 2011.
Thomas Andrew Lehrer is an American singer-songwriter, satirist, pianist, and mathematician. He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater. Lehrer is best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and 1960s. His work often parodies popular song forms, such as in “The Elements”, where he sets the names of the chemical elements to the tune of the “Major-General’s Song” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. Lehrer’s earlier work typically dealt with non-topical subject matter and was noted for its black humor, seen in songs such as “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”. In the 1960s, he produced a number of songs dealing with social and political issues of the day, particularly when he wrote for the U.S. version of the television show That Was The Week That Was. In the early 1970s, he retired from public performances to devote his time to teaching mathematics and music theatre at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He did two additional performances in 1998 at a London gala show celebrating the career of impresario Cameron Mackintosh.
Shing-Tung Yau is a Chinese American mathematician working in differential geometry. He was born in Shantou, Guangdong Province, China into a family of scholars from Jiaoling, Guangdong Province. Yau’s contributions have had an influence on both physics and mathematics. Calabi–Yau manifolds are among the ‘standard toolkit’ for string theorists today. He has been active at the interface between geometry and theoretical physics. His proof of the positive energy theorem in general relativity demonstrated—sixty years after its discovery—that Einstein’s theory is consistent and stable. His proof of the Calabi conjecture allowed physicists—using Calabi-Yau compactification—to show that string theory is a viable candidate for a unified theory of nature.
Ravi D. Vakil is an American-Canadian mathematician working in algebraic geometry. Vakil attended high school at Martingrove Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, Ontario, where he won several mathematical contests and olympiads. After earning a BSc and MSc from the University of Toronto in 1992, he completed a Ph.D. in mathematics at Harvard University in 1997 under Joe Harris. He has since been an instructor at both Princeton University and MIT. Since the fall of 2001, he has taught at Stanford University, becoming a full professor in 2007. Vakil is an algebraic geometer and his research work spans over enumerative geometry, topology, Gromov–Witten theory, and classical algebraic geometry. He has solved several old problems in Schubert calculus. Among other results, he proved that all Schubert problems are enumerative over the real numbers, a result that resolves an issue mathematicians have worked on for at least two decades.
Sir Charles Antony Richard Hoare, commonly known as Tony Hoare or C. A. R. Hoare, is a British computer scientist best known for the development (in 1960, at age 26) of Quicksort, one of the world’s most widely used sorting algorithms. He also developed Hoare logic for verifying program correctness, and the formal language Communicating Sequential Processes (CSP) to specify the interactions of concurrent processes (including the dining philosophers problem) and the inspiration for the occam programming language. Hoare’s most significant work has been in the following areas: his sorting algorithm (Quicksort), Hoare logic, the formal language Communicating Sequential Processes (CSP) used to specify the interactions between concurrent processes, structuring computer operating systems using the monitor concept, and the axiomatic specification of programming languages. In 1982, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Donald Ervin Knuth is a computer scientist and Professor Emeritus of the Art of Computer Programming at Stanford University. Author of the seminal multi-volume work The Art of Computer Programming, Knuth has been called the “father” of the analysis of algorithms, contributing to the development of, and systematizing formal mathematical techniques for, the rigorous analysis of the computational complexity of algorithms, and in the process popularizing asymptotic notation. In addition to fundamental contributions in several branches of theoretical computer science, Knuth is the creator of the TeX computer typesetting system, the related METAFONT font definition language and rendering system, and the Computer Modern family of typefaces. A writer and scholar, Knuth created the WEB/CWEB computer programming systems designed to encourage and facilitate literate programming, and designed the MMIX instruction set architecture.
Stephen William Hawking is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking’s key scientific works to date have included providing, with Roger Penrose, theorems regarding gravitational singularities in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation, which is today known as Hawking radiation (or sometimes as Bekenstein–Hawking radiation). Hawking has a neuro-muscular dystrophy that is related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that has progressed over the years and has left him almost completely paralysed. He became the first quadriplegic to float free in a weightless state. This was the first time in 40 years that he moved freely beyond the confines of his wheelchair.