Acclaimed Mathematician Receives Prize in Israeli Knesset, Donates It for Equal Opportunities for Palestinian Students

Wolf Prize Mathematician David Mumford:

Freedom of movement is essential for intellectual development

"Access to education determines how the next generation of Palestinians will grow up, specifically whether potential mathematicians will have the opportunity to join the international community."

Mon., May 26, 2008 – Acclaimed mathematician David Mumford announced today that he is donating proceeds from the prestigious Wolf Prize, awarded Sunday at a ceremony at the Israeli Knesset, for the benefit of equal opportunities for Palestinian students. Professor Mumford is donating half his share of the prize to an Israeli human rights NGO, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, which protects the rights of Palestinian students to access education and half to Birzeit University in the West Bank.

Professor Mumford was given his award by Israeli President Shimon Peres at Sunday’s ceremony, in recognition of his groundbreaking theoretical work in algebraic geometry. He is a University Professor at Brown University’s Division of Applied Mathematics.

According to Professor Mumford, mathematics is flourishing today as a vibrant international community, because scholars are free to travel, talk and learn from each other anywhere in the world. "Here is my own experience", says Mumford: "the work for which I have received this prize owes more than I can say to sharing ideas when I was young with Jun-Ichi Igusa from Japan, C. S. Seshadri from India, Alexander Grothendieck, a stateless person — and many others. It was startling and moving when, as a young man, I received a letter from Seshadri, from halfway around the world, telling me that his and Narasimhan’s work had led them to the same results as mine".

"Mathematics in Israel flourishes today on this high international plane. Its lifeblood is the free exchange of ideas with scholars visiting, teaching, learning from each other, traveling everywhere in the world. But this is not so in occupied Palestine where education struggles to continue and travel is greatly limited".
"Therefore I have decided to donate my part of the Wolf Prize in Mathematics to the cause of helping the University community in occupied Palestine survive and flourish. Its existence determines how the next generation will grow up and specifically whether potential mathematicians there will have the opportunity to join the international community that nourished me. For this reason, I am giving half of my prize to the Israeli human rights NGO Gisha which works to further The Right to Education and Freedom of Movement and half to Birzeit University directly."