The Fields Medal is awarded every four years to two, three or four mathematicians under the age of 40, and this year’s four winners are just outstanding.

    Maryna Viazovska was born in Ukraine and now calls Switzerland home. She works at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and has won the Fields Medal for her work on the E8 grating.

    This arrangement shows how to pack spheres in 8 dimensions in the least amount of space possible. Viazovska said: You have a big box, an infinite collection of equal balls, and you’re trying to fit as many balls into the box as you can, and she’s trying to pack the squares densely into her 24 dimensions.

    Hugo Duminil-Copin, from France, won the prize for his work on how matter changes. This is called the stochastic theory of phase transitions.

    His work focuses on how ferromagnets transition from non-magnetic to magnetic in what is called the Ising model.

    June Huh is a professor at Princeton University and has won a Fields Medal for many of the topics he has worked on, including the application of geometric concepts to combinatorics (the mathematics of counting).

    Interestingly, Huh dropped out of school to become a poet and didn’t get into math until he was 23.

    And James Maynard of the University of Oxford won a medal for breakthroughs in the study of prime numbers.

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