This is an unsolved mystery, a reclusive Russian genius and a race to win a million dollars ...For over a century, the Poincare Conjecture was one of the world's most confounding puzzles. Formulated by a French mathematician, Henri Poincare, over a hundred years ago, it was a theory that had the potential to describe the very shape of the universe. It remained unproved, however, and in 2000 the Clay Mathematics Institute identified it as one of the seven great and essential unsolved conundrums of the new millennium - and offered a one-million-dollar prize for its solution. Six years later, the conjecture appears to have been solved by a remarkable and reclusive Russian mathematician, Grigory Perelman. "The Poincare Conjecture" brings alive the human drama behind the most important mathematical breakthrough of the twenty-first century, and in doing so provides a lens through which to view the history of mathematics and the achievements of those whose personalities and genius have transformed the field over the years.
In its dramatic finale, O'Shea's book chronicles the extraordinary events and media sensation at the 2006 International Mathematical Union conference in Madrid, where the eccentric Perelman was awarded a Fields Medal - the mathematical equivalent to the Nobel Prize - only to turn it down, claiming he had no interest in the spotlight. "The Poincare Conjecture" is a remarkable story of human endeavour, intellectual brilliance and the thrill of discovery.
Donal O'Shea is professor of mathematics and dean of faculty at Mount Holyoke College. He has written scholarly books and monographs, and his research articles have appeared in numerous journals and collections. He lives in South Hadley, Massachusetts.