The Stephen Smale Prize

Staphen Smale

The Society for the Foundations of Computational Mathematics was created in the Northern summer of 1995, following the month-long meeting in Park City, Utah, which was principally organized by Steve Smale. The Park City meeting aimed, in Smale's words from the preliminary announcement, “to strengthen the unity of mathematics and numerical analysis, and to narrow the gap between pure and applied mathematics." Smale's vision has been the Society's inspiration for all these years. The journal Foundations of Computational Mathematics was created, several colloquia and research semesters were organized and international conferences are held every three years. After fifteen years of existence, with an established and recognized position in the scientific community, the Society has created the "Stephen Smale Prize" whose objective is to recognize the work of a young mathematician in the areas at the heart of the society's interests and to help to promote his or her integration among the leaders of the scientific community. The first Stephen Smale Prize was awarded at the Budapest meeting in 2011.


Smale Prize Recipients

Name of Recipient Year Conference
Lek-Heng Lim 2017 FoCM - Barcelona
Carlos Beltran and Mark Braverman 2014 FoCM - Montevideo
Snorre H. Christiansen 2011 FoCM - Budapest


The Gömböc

The insignia for the Stephen Smale Prize is a special series of individual Gömböc shapes.

The Gömböc is the first known homogeneous, convex body with just two equilibrium points (one stable, one unstable), its existence was conjectured in 1995 by V.I. Arnold and the constructive proof was given in 2006 by G. Domokos and P. Várkonyi. Its geometry is sensitive to 0.1% deviations and Gömböc pieces are produced by high-precision, computer-controlled milling. Individual, numbered pieces are on exhibit at famous institutions, such as the Institut Poincaré in Paris, the Mathematical Collection in Göttingen, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Currently, the Stephen Smale Prize awarded by the FOCM is the only individual Gömböc without serial number, sponsored by Mr Otto Albrecht.

More about the Gömböc is here

Gömböc Gömböc Gömböc
Click images to enlarge


Prize Rules

  1. The goal of the Smale Prize is to recognize major achievements in furthering the understanding of the connections between mathematics and computation, including the interfaces between pure and applied mathematics, numerical analysis and computer science.

  2. It will be awarded at the meeting of the Society for the Foundations of Computational Mathematics (FoCM). Since these meetings are held approximately every three years, this approximate length will therefore apply for the separation between consecutive awards of the prize.

  3. Occasionally, there may be two recipients of the prize but not more than two.

  4. To be eligible for the prize a candidate must be in his or her early to mid career, meaning, typically, removed by at most 10 years of his/her (1st) doctoral degree by the last day of the meeting. Allowances might be made for atypical life circumstances. The judgment of the committee as to eligibility will be final.

  5. Eligible candidates should be nominated (self-nominations excluded) by sending an email to the secretary of FoCM. The period for nominations closes nine months before the 1st day of the meeting. That is, if the meeting begins say, a 11th of December, the nomination period closes at midnight of March 10 (GMT) of the same year. Each nomination should be accompanied by a brief case for support.

  6. There is no compulsory format for the nomination but it should include at least three letters of recommendation.

  7. The recipient of the prize will be selected, among the nominated candidates, by a committee created for this task. This committee will be proposed to the Board of Directors, after the closing of the nomination period, by the chair of the society, who will also serve as chair of the committee itself. It should consist of between 5 and 8 persons representing, as well as possible, the variety of subjects covered in the area of Foundations of Computational Mathematics. At least a third of the committee members should not have served as such in previous awards of the prize and no person can serve as a member more than thrice.

  8. The committee will be the sole authority on the compliance of candidates with the conditions of the prize.

  9. The recipient of the prize will be expected to give a lecture at the meeting. A written version of this lecture (tagged as the Smale Prize Lecture) will be included in the volume of plenary talks.