RIO DE JANEIRO-Caucher Birkar, a Cambridge University professor of Iranian Kurdish origin, was named Wednesday one of four winners of mathematics’ prestigious Fields medal, often known as the Nobel prize for math.


The winners were announced at a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, which became the first Latin American city ever to host the event that takes place only once every four years.


“I’m hoping that this news will put a smile on the faces of those 40 million people,” Birkar of the Kurdish people.


The other winners were:
- Germany’s Peter Scholze, who teaches at the University of Bonn;
- Alessio Figalli, an Italian mathematician at ETH Zurich;
- Akshay Venkatesh, an Australian teaching at Stanford University.
“A lot of the time, when you do Math, you’re stuck. But you feel privileged to work with it: you have a feeling of transcendence and feel like you’ve been part of something really meaningful,” Venkatesh said.
The Fields medal recognizes outstanding mathematical achievement of candidates who were under 40 years old at the start of the year. At least two and preferably four people are always honored.