January 8, 2010 Ian Luke Kane

Poincaré Conjecture: Controversy and Eccentricity

(Image by crdotx)

(Image by crdotx)

Evidently there’s a newish biography out about Grigori Perelman, the man primarily responsible for solving the Poincaré Conjecture. Masha Gessen, a Russian journalist and author, has released “Perfect Rigor: A Genius + the Mathematical Breakthrough of the Century”, a work about the life of the curious mathematician who has vanished from the professional math community. She explains her work in an interview with failuremag.com, in which she describes the rationale behind the work, and gives some insights into both the Poincaré Conjecture and the life of Perelman.

There’s no doubt that Perelman’s response to solving one of math’s longest standing problems is part of what is so intriguing to the lay reader. He turned down a Field’s medal and withdrew from professional mathematics. Pieces on him tend to accentuate his eccentricities. Part of what makes the story so very interesting is Perelman’s response, as well as the other cast of characters involved in the solving of the problem. Though it came out in mid-2006, the New Yorker has a fantastic article about the solving of the Poincaré Conjecture and the controversy surrounding it. If you’d like to understand to a greater extent Perelman’s response to his solution, read this article. It’s long, but extremely informative and complete.