Former faculty member Luis Caffarelli awarded 2023 Abel Prize

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (5/19/2023) – The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded the 2023 Abel Prize to former University of Minnesota faculty member Luis Caffarelli for his “seminal contributions to regularity theory for nonlinear partial differential equations including free-boundary problems and the Monge–Ampère equation.” Professor Caffarelli is currently the Richardson Foundation Regents Chair in Mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin. 

After receiving his PhD in 1973 at the University of Buenos Aires, Caffarelli moved to the University of Minnesota as a postdoctoral associate. He was hired as an assistant professor in 1975, and was quickly promoted to associate and then full professor. During his decade at UMN, he produced breakthrough results on the regularity theory for partial differential equations, particularly for free boundary and obstacle problems. Over the years, Caffarelli has collaborated with many colleagues in the School of Mathematics, including Nestor Rivière, Eugene Fabes, and Avner Friedman. Collaboration in Caffarelli’s early career would prove foundational to his receipt of the 2023 Abel Prize, as outlined in the award citation:

“The incompressible Navier–Stokes equations model fluid flow, such as water. The regularity of solutions of these equations in three dimensions is one of the open Clay Millennium Problems. In 1983, based on Scheffer’s previous work, Caffarelli, with Kohn and Nirenberg, showed that sets of singularities of suitable weak solutions cannot contain a curve, that is, they have to be very ‘small’”

Established in 2002, the Abel Prize is named after Niels Henrik Abel, who is regarded as one of Norway’s greatest mathematicians. The annual award is presented to outstanding mathematicians around the world, to strengthen and inspire both teaching and scientific efforts.