UT professor Luis A. Caffarelli makes history as first Latin American recipient of Abel Prize

Laurel Pinchback, General News Reporter

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters named Luis A. Caffarelli the winner of the 2023 Abel Prize for his mathematical achievements, becoming the third recipient from the University of Texas and the first Latin American winner. 

The Abel Prize is an international award celebrating the highest honor in mathematics, commonly regarded as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics.” Caffarelli will officially become a laureate at this year’s ceremony on May 23 in Oslo, Norway, receiving his Abel Prize from King Harald V. 

Caffarelli, whose work gained traction in the late 1970s, discovered a mathematical equation that led to a greater understanding of the motion of fluids, an example being how ice melts into water. Highly prestigious academic journals like Springer Nature, and Elsevier’s ScienceDirect published Caffarelli’s work. 

During the live-streamed announcement of this year’s recipient, Caffarelli, recognized for his revolutionary work with partial differential equations, said he was glad to have made contributions deemed valuable to the scientific and mathematical community.  

“I am very humbled by the Abel Prize selection committee and the unwavering support of my collaborators through my 50 years of work,” Caffarelli said in a recent press release

Professor Francesco Maggi, Caffarelli’s mathematics colleague, said he has played a revolutionary and crucial part in the modern understanding of partial differential equations.

“(Caffarelli’s work has) been really transformative; you can see a difference in the literature of partial differential equations from before and after Caffarelli,” Maggi said.

Currently, Caffarelli holds the Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Mathematics #1 at the University. UT President Jay Hartzell praised his work and achievement.

“For more than a quarter century here at UT, Luis Caffarelli has introduced ingenious new techniques that show brilliant geometrical insight,” Hartzell said in a recent press release. “Luis has helped to advance humanity’s understanding of some of the most formidable problems in all of mathematics. His academic family tree is part of his impact and story, too, as he has mentored dozens of stellar mathematical minds.”

Maggi said Caffarelli’s generosity and kindness make it easy for his colleagues in UT’s mathematics department to feel second-hand pride in his historic achievement.  

“I have truly enjoyed every moment of my mathematical career,” Caffarelli said in the press release. “My career and collaborations have been a constant source of joy and inspiration.”