Math professor wins prize for algebra

By By , Staff Writer

By Andreas Rivera, Staff Writer

U math professor Christopher Hacon took the stage Jan. 6 in front of nearly 6,000 of his colleagues and accepted one of the most prestigious awards in the field of algebra.

The American Mathematical Society awards the Frank Nelson Cole Prize in Algebra every three years to the author of an outstanding paper on algebra. Hacon accepted the award with his colleague James McKernan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for their groundbreaking papers on algebraic geometry, in which he expanded on the minimal model program that was created years ago to simplify three dimensional properties of algebra for other functions. Hacon took this model and applied it to dimensions greater than three. . The award was presented at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Washington, D.C.

Hacon, born in Manchester, England, received his doctoral degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1998. The U’s math department encouraged Hacon to leave his position there and start as an instructor, and by 2008, Hacon became a professor. Since 1996, he has published 40 papers on mathematics, including his recent award-winning papers.

Hacon’s previous discoveries have brought him to Seminaire Bourbaki, an annual meeting of math experts from around the world who review the most important discoveries in mathematics of the year and publish them. Hacon was featured in these meetings in 2006 and 2007.

Aaron Bertram, chairman of the math department, said when Hacon came to the U as a young instructor, “he was a prize catch for us,” and fit right in, making an excellent addition to an already strong department.

“The growth he has made is phenomenal,” Bertram said.

Hacon’s prize has drawn the attention of the math community. Many schools, including Princeton and MIT, have offered him jobs, but the department does not want to lose its esteemed professor.

Hacon said he hasn’t accepted another job but hasn’t made a final decision yet.

Bertram said the department treats all faculty equally and cannot give Hacon any special treatment in hopes that he will stay on.

“All we can do is make him comfortable here,” Bertram said. “Utah itself has many strengths.”

Elena Deryusheva, a sophomore in physics, said as a teacher, Hacon was energetic and almost hypnotizing when she took a math class from him last semester.

“He has a smart energy that gets into everyone else,” Deryusheva said.

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