Originally posted by @sonhouse
Caucher Birkkar, Kurdish refugee wins along with Peter Scholze, Alegio Figalli and Ashay Venkatesh who is from India. Scholze is German and Figalli is Italian.
But there are some who doubt the direction of the Fields medal:
"However, in 1966, the medal's meaning radically changed. The committee established a
strict age limit of 40-years old, which opened the prize up to those who become famous
early on in their careers. In addition, the prestige of the Fields Medal was elevated
following a controversy relating to one of the medalists, whose colleagues defended him
by comparing the Fields Medal to the much higher-profile Nobel prizes."
Zhang Yitang established the first finite bound on gaps between prime numbers,
which certainly would deserve a Fields Medal except that he was over the age limit.
There were important reasons, however, why he seemed 'late' in proving that astonishing result.
First of all, his education was postponed due to political persecution in his native China.
"During the Cultural Revolution, he and his mother were sent to the countryside to work in the fields.
He worked as a laborer for 10 years and was unable to attend high school.
After the Cultural Revolution ended, Zhang entered Peking University in 1978 [at age 23] ..."
After earning his PhD at Purdue University in 1991, Zhang had a bitter falling-out with
his PhD advisor, who did not give him any reference. Accordingly, Zhang could not get
any job in mathematics for eight years (during which he worked part-time in sandwich shop),
when he was hired as an adjunct lecturer (no tenure) by the University of New Hampshire,
a low-prestige university not known for research. Living in poverty (on an adjunct lecturer's
salary), Zhang was worried that he could not find any woman who would marry him, and
he was overjoyed when a Chinese waitress agreed to marry him.
Given all his hardships, it's amazing that Zhang never gave up and kept working hard
on mathematical research when he was not struggling to stay afloat financially.
In 2013, this unknown lecturer from an obscure university astonished the world of mathematics.