Frequently asked questions

Here you may find answers to the most common questions about the Abel Prize.

The Abel Prize is a scientific prize, awarded within the discipline of mathematics. The Abel Prize is named in honour of the Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802 – 1829). It was established by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) in 2002, which marked the 200th anniversary of Abel’s birth. The Prize is awarded annually by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on behalf of the Norwegian government, more specifically the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.

The main purpose of the Abel Prize is to acknowledge groundbreaking scientific achievements within the discipline of mathematics. In addition to celebrating exceptional mathematicians and their work, the intent of the Abel Prize is also to increase the status of mathematics in general. The third, and final purpose of the prize, is to encourage the interest in mathematics among children and youth in Norway.

Niels Henrik Abel is recognized as the most prominent Norwegian mathematician of all time. His contributions to mathematics were revolutionary, also in an international perspective.

The Abel Prize was established by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) in 2002. The Abel Prize is awarded and administered by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on behalf of the Norwegian government.

The Abel Prize is awarded annually.

The announcement of the Abel Prize laureate of the year usually takes place in March.. 

The award ceremony usually takes place during the Abel Prize Week, in May each year. The Abel Prize Week is arranged in Oslo, Norway.

The Abel Prize week is a weeklong celebration in honour of that year’s laureate(s) and their work, consisting of the Prize Award Ceremony at the University Aula (The University of Oslo’s famous Aula), the Abel lectures and the Government’s official banquet. Other events may also occur as part of the celebratory week.

The Abel Prize consists of glass plaque designed by Norwegian artist Henrik Haugan, as well as prize money denominating 7,5 million NOK. The prize sum is approximately 750 500 EUR or 849 340 USD (as of 2022).

The prize money is granted by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) through the annual national budget. The Abel Prize is officially a Norwegian prize by the Norwegian government.

The prize money may be used freely, as the recipient sees fit. The Abel Prize recipients are not required to report on their spending of the prize money.

One example of usage is Karen Uhlenbeck’s (2019) investment in the EDGE program for minority students within the field of mathematics in higher education and research at The Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), Princeton, New Jersey.


It depends. The taxing is set by the recipient’s home country, depending on their taxation laws. The Norwegian government does not tax the award money.

The Abel Prize is awarded to exceptional mathematicians.

Anyone may nominate candidates for the Abel Prize. However, you may not nominate yourself. Such nominations will not be assessed. Both individuals and institutions may put forward nominations.

Any living mathematician may be nominated.

Nominations of deceased persons (postmortem) are not accepted.

Any living mathematician may be awarded the Abel Prize. The Prize may be awarded to one or several people, but not to institutions or groups, and not more than three individuals.

Yes. However, to be acknowledged as a serious candidate, the candidate must, as a minimum requirement, have authored at least one scientific and mathematical article in a peer reviewed research journal.

People who claim to have solved a mathematical problem but fail to refer to a published article in a peer-reviewed journal, will not be considered as a valid nominee for the prize.

A scientific article is reviewed (peer-reviewed) by colleagues within the same scientific discipline. The articles are usually published in a scientific journal. Such a journal must follow basic scientific methods and criteria. One of the founding principles of scientific articles is that its contents and reasoning can be acknowledged and understood by other mathematicians.

Anyone can write and submit their own work to a journal.

Here are a few recognized journals within the field of mathematical research (see list)


In order to be awarded the Abel Prize, you would first have to be nominated by someone else, or by an institution. Anyone can submit nominations for the Abel Prize, but you cannot nominate yourself. Such nominations will not be considered.

The board of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters formally decides who the next Abel Prize laureate will be. They do so on the recommendation by the Abel Committee. The Committee comprises a group of internationally outstanding mathematicians.

The chair of the Abel Committee hails from Norway, which is Niels Henrik Abel’s country of origin. The rest of the Abel Committee composition varies.

The committee members consist of expert mathematicians, all appointed by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The appointments are based on the recommendation by the Academy’s mathematical group, selected from suggestions by the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the European Mathematical Society (EMS).

The chair of the Abel Committee holds the position for four years. Abel Committee members hold their positions for two years each.

The Abel Committee assess the candidates nominated for the Abel Prize. From these nominations, they select and appoint that year’s Abel Prize recipient. The board of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters formally decide who the recipient will be, based on the recommendation by the Abel Committee. The committee meets multiple times during the year to consider the nominees.

The committee oversees the following Abel documents: The statutes of the Abel Prize, the Abel Committee guidelines, the research-ethical guidelines of the Prize, nominated candidates and the Abel Prize history. The importance of the history is to be make sure the Abel Prize and its laureates will represent the full width of the mathematical research, over time.

The Abel Committee discusses and comes up with a list of relevant names for the prize that year. They then research each candidate more closely. The committee may contact various experts within the discipline to acquire knowledge on different mathematical fields. The committee will then make a short-list and delve in depth on each candidate on the shortlist. Based on this, the Abel Committee discusses and agrees on one or multiple recipients, based on consensus. The final decision is sent to the board of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The board formally names the next Abel Prize recipient.

Committee work is unremunerated (ie: it is not paid work).

The Abel Committee considers the nominated candidates. They assess the following criteria:

• Whether the mathematical work is compliant with the Abel Prize’s statutes and the guidelines of the Abel Committee.
• Academic quality; whether the mathematical work is of exceptional character.
• Academic width; whether the mathematical work contributes to the width of the field of mathematics, over time.

The committee members may themselves nominate their own candidates for the Abel Prize.


When one of the Abel Committee members end their time on the committee, they enter a professional quarantine for two years. This means that they, during this period, may not be awarded the Abel Prize themselves. This rule also applies to relatives and family, close friends and close colleagues.

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