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Fields medal, also known as the Nobel for mathematics has been awarded mostly to nationals of the developed countries. 82% of all awards have been gathered by Europe (58%) and North America (23%). Asia Pacific and the rest of the world account for 18% only.
France honors its reputation as the homeland of Descartes, Pascal, Laplace, Poincaré, Galois and other sharp minds, with no less than 12 medals. Some French critics claim that the extraordinary performance of the country in the field of mathematics is explained by the fact that research in this discipline is mostly an individual endeavor, requiring little more than paper, pencil, time and the occasional access to super computer power, which is practically costless if compared with research work in other disciplines such as biology, physics or physiology, unachievable without armies of research workers and costly laboratories.
As a curiosity, the reader may be interested in knowing the opinion of another brilliant French mathematician, Alexandre Grothendieck, Fields Medal laureate in 1966, who, utterly disillusioned with the environment of mathematics research — at least in France, charged the profession in the most caustic terms:
The ethics of the scientific profession (at least among mathematicians) has deteriorated to such a degree as the outright pillage among confrères (and especially at the expense of those who are not in a position of power to defend themselves) has become almost a general rule, and it is in any case tolerated by all, including in the most flagrant and unjust cases.(letter declining the Crafoord prize, 1988)
|Country ¹||Awards||Percent of Total|
|¹ Double nationals are accounted for twice, once for each nationality. For further details, see List - Fields Medal.|
Sources: see International Mathematical Union