Medal count

Country Fields Medals FM per 100 million
New Zealand 1 23.5
Norway 1 21.3
Belgium 2 18.9
Finland 1 18.9
France 9 14
UK 6 9.9
Sweden 1 9.2
Russia 8* 5.6
Australia 1 4.7
US 12 4
Japan 3 2.4
Italy 1 1.6
Germany 1 1.2
China 1** .08

* Drinfel’d was actually born in the Ukraine, but let’s not nit-pick.
** sometimes Yau is counted as US.

17 thoughts on “Medal count

  1. I’m having trouble seeing how you determine nationality. It’s clear you’re not using birth country, since South Africa doesn’t appear. Is it where they went to high school? Grad school?

  2. Well, I went with what Wikipedia said, which is a very easy rule to follow. Of course, we can’t use birthplace (that would require assigning Grothendieck to Germany, which is obviously wrong), though it looks like “started college” might work.

  3. Is there a correct choice for Grothendieck? He has spent much of his life in France, but he was (and possibly still is) stateless.

  4. Is there a correct choice for Grothendieck?

    You could argue that French culture brought him to mathematics. If there is any point to this list, that might be the most relevant attribute.

  5. Also, the list is biased towards small countries that happen to have one or two medalists. You may get a clearer picture of which countries encourage advanced mathematics in young students — or which countries benefit from the biases of Fields committees — by grouping small countries with larger countries or each other. E.g. Belgium + France, New Zealand + Australia, all of Scandinavia.

    You could address a different question by looking at where they did their medal-winning work, or where they went to graduate school. Either statistic would give a boost to the US.

  6. Eï la bas Greg !
    Je sais une fois comprendre une zwanze, mais nous mettre avec ces stoefers et dikke neks van Parijs, tu peux danser sur ta tête mais on veut pas de ces kluuteraa.
    Dag en de kost, Jefke van Schaarbeek.

  7. Are the numbers yet large enough that the difference between 2 from Belgium and 0 from the Netherlands means something? I’m somewhat surprised that Germany is so far behind here, but I suppose they just haven’t been as dominant in the late 20th century as they were in previous time periods.

  8. Also, does adding the population of Ukraine to that of Russia change their standing w.r.t. Australia? As I recall, Ukraine has a lot of people, but it might not be quite as high as 1/5 of Russia’s population.

  9. Are the numbers yet large enough that the difference between 2 from Belgium and 0 from the Netherlands means something?

    Of course not! Obviously this table is mostly meaningless.

    It is worth noting that at least one of Belgium’s medalists is Francophone, and did his most famous work in France. Jean Bourgain, I’m not so sure about. He was born in a Flemish part of Belgium, and educated at a Flemish university, but Jean Bourgain is an awfully French name.

  10. Country of birth doesn’t really mean much, since so many
    people have migrated elsewhere to study or practice
    mathematics. American mathematics became strong
    in the 20th century largely because of immigration and
    relative affluence. Belgium, though affluent enough, is
    a small linguistically divided country whose universities
    have been weak. Tits migrated to Bonn and then Paris,
    while collaborating with people like Borel and Bruhat.
    (But he had to become a French citizen to join the College,
    even taking the required exam in French. I guess he
    passed.)

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