MEDIA RELEASE — Mar 9, 2010

Canadian Mathematical Society

Mar 9, 2010


Kai Behrend to Receive CMS 2011 Jeffery-Williams Prize for Research Excellence

OTTAWA, Ontario — The Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) is pleased to announce that Kai Behrend from the University of British Columbia is the recipient of the 2011 Jeffery-Williams Prize in recognition of his outstanding research contribution. Kai Behrend will receive his award at the June 2011 Society’s Summer Meeting.

The Jeffery-Williams Prize was inaugurated in 1968 to recognize established mathematicians who have made outstanding contributions to mathematical research. The first award was presented in 1968 and named, in part, for Ralph Lent Jeffery, the fourth CMS President who by consistently encouraging research, made an outstanding contribution to mathematics in Canada. The award is also named, in part, for Lloyd Williams, who was instrumental in establishing the predecessor organization of the CMS.

In announcing the award, Tony Lau, President of the CMS, noted that “Behrend is one of the world's leading experts in the theory of algebraic stacks and the geometry of moduli spaces of stable maps. This award recognizes not only his substantive research contribution, especially to algebraic geometry, but also the excellence of his research.”

“Behrend’s work on Gromov-Witten theory, Donaldson-Thomas theory, and the virtual fundamental class has had a large and lasting impact on algebraic geometry,” noted David Brydges, Chair of the CMS Research Committee. “In particular, his 1996 Duke paper (with Manin) and his two 1997 Inventiones papers (one with Fantechi) are among the most heavily cited papers in the subject.”

Today, nearly every paper in Gromov-Witten theory, which is a mathematical incarnation of string theory, relies on Behrend’s work in some way. His recent Annals paper on micro-local geometry and Donaldson-Thomas theory has revolutionized the subject. Donaldson-Thomas invariants are fundamental invariants of Calabi-Yau threefolds. His Annals paper allows the use of topological techniques to compute the invariants and has changed the way that people think about these invariants. Behrend's use of micro-local geometry to study the virtual fundamental class was ingenious and completely unprecedented in mathematics and physics. It led to his discovery of the now-called "Behrend function", a fundamental integer valued function on any complex variety or scheme, which provides subtle information about the singularities.

Kai Behrend obtained his M.A. from the University of Oregon in 1984. Behrend did graduate work under G. Harder in Bonn and A. Ogus in Berkeley, receiving his Diploma from the University of Bonn in 1989 and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1991. He was a Moore Instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and after his post-doctoral work there and at the Max-Planck Institute joined the University of British Columbia in 1995 where he is a Professor of Mathematics. He has also held visiting positions at the Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik, Bonn, and at the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Kyoto, Japan.

For more information, contact:

Dr. David Brydges, Chair
CMS Research Committee
Department of Mathematics
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC Tel: (604) 822-3620
or Dr. Anthony To-Ming Lau, President
Canadian Mathematical Society
Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta
Tel: (780) 492-3396

About the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS)

The CMS is the main national organization whose goal is to promote and advance the discovery, learning, and application of mathematics. The Society's activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics including: scientific meetings, research publications, and the promotion of excellence in mathematics education at all levels. The CMS annually sponsors mathematics awards and prizes that recognize outstanding achievements.