Category: Research Award Winners
Affiliation: University of Oxford
The 2004 Clay Research Award was made to Ben Green for his joint work with Terry Tao on arithmetic progressions of prime numbers.
These are equally spaced sequences of primes such as 31, 37, 43 or 13, 43, 73, 103. Results in the area go back to the work of Lagrange and Waring in the 1770’s. A major breakthrough came in 1939 when the Dutch mathematician Johannes van der Corput showed that there are an infinite number of three-term arithmetic progressions of primes. Green and Tao showed that for any n, there are infinitely many n-term progressions of primes. Their proof, which relies on results of Szemerédi (1975) and Goldston and Yildirim (2003), uses ideas from combinatorics, ergodic theory, and the theory of pseudorandom numbers. The Green-Tao result is a major advance in our understanding of the primes.