Congratulations to Professor John McKay, FRSC. The distinguished mathematician,
who teaches in the Department of Computer Science and the Department of
Mathematics and Statistics, is a joint winner of the CRMFields Prize
for Mathematics for 20022003.
The prize, awarded annually by the Centre de Recherches Mathématiques
in Montreal and the Fields Institute in Toronto, recognizes exceptional
contributions by a mathematician working in Canada, and unusually this
year, awarded a joint prize. The other recipient is Edwin Perkins, FRSC,
of the University of British Columbia. Both will talk on their work at
the institutes next fall.
Professor McKay’s research revolves around the properties of finite
groups, their representations and their symmetries. The citation by the
CRMFields committee continues:
“He has been at the origin of several of the most startling discoveries
in mathematics of our time, and is worldrenowned for launching two areas
of mathematics by his observations and conjectures, one known as the McKay
correspondence, and the other going under the fanciful name of monstrous
moonshine, underlying the role of the largest sporadic simple group which
is known as the monster.
“His wide knowledge of mathematics has allowed him to bring to the
fore questions which have been deeply influential in the subsequent development
of the discipline, for example, the work of Richard Borcherds, which was
recognized by a Fields medal at the 1998 International Congress of Mathematicians.
“Professor McKay, amongst other achievements, is a pioneer in the
use of computers as a tool in algebra, either in the study of sporadic
groups (he is the codiscoverer of two such groups) or in the explicit
computation of Galois groups. He was also [a contributor to] one of the
feats of computational algebra of our time, the proof of the nonexistence
of a projective plane of order 10.”
After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Manchester,
McKay obtained a doctorate in computer science in Edinburgh. He held appointments
at the Atlas laboratory in England, at Caltech and at McGill University
before moving to Concordia in 1974.
