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Nemmers Awards in Economics and Mathematics Announced

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March 15, 2006 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has announced that Lars Peter Hansen and Robert P. Langlands are the recipients of the 2006 Nemmers Prizes in economics and mathematics, believed to be the largest monetary awards in the United States for outstanding achievements in those two disciplines.

Awarded to scholars who made major contributions to new knowledge or the development of significant new modes of analysis, each prize carries a $150,000 stipend.

Hansen, the Homer J. Livingston Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, has been awarded the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics, recognized by the selection committee “for rigorously relating economic theory to observed macroeconomic and asset market behavior and for innovations in modeling optimal policy under uncertainty.”

Langlands, Hermann Weyl Professor of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., has been awarded the Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics for his “fundamental vision connecting representation theory, automorphic forms and number theory.”

In connection with their awards, Hansen and Langlands are scheduled to deliver public lectures and participate in other scholarly activities at Northwestern during the fall of 2007.

“These scholars are widely respected among their peers, and we are proud once again to recognize such exceptional work with the Nemmers Prizes,” said Northwestern University Provost Lawrence B. Dumas. “Since the prizes were first awarded in 1994, they have become recognized as the leading awards in their fields. It is significant that three of the six scholars awarded the Nemmers Prizes in Economics went on to receive the Nobel Prize in that field.”

By terms of the gift which created the prizes, previous winners of Nobel awards are ineligible to receive a Nemmers Prize.

Lars Peter Hansen is widely recognized as one of the most important empirical economists of our day.

“His studies of macroeconomic and asset market behavior are notable for their methodological innovations, combining economic theory and frontier econometric methods,” said Robert Porter, professor and chair of economics at Northwestern. “He also has made important contributions in modeling optimal policy under uncertainty.”

In essence, Hansen has studied dynamic properties of financial markets and how they reflect the uncertainties of the macroeconomic environment by developing and applying rigorous statistical methods.

Among Hansen’s honors, he is the recipient of the Frisch Prize, awarded every other year for the best empirical paper in the journal “Econometrica.” He holds fellowships at the Econometric Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and he was a fellow at the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Hansen also is a former co-editor of “Econometrica” and of the “Journal of Political Economy.” He is the author or co-author of numerous articles and books including “Robust Control and Economic Model Uncertainty” with Thomas J. Sargent, which is in press.

Langlands is best known for the fundamental research program that bears his name.

“This program postulates a deep relationship between two different areas of mathematics, number theory and automorphic forms, via a study of their symmetries,” said Kari Vilonen, professor of mathematics at Northwestern.

“Since its initiation about 40 years ago, the Langlands program has served as a unifying principle in mathematics and has guided research in number theory, automorphic forms and representation theory,” he said. “Recently, it also had entered mathematical physics. It remains a research program for the future in all these areas.”

Langlands’ numerous distinguished awards include the La Grande Medaille d’or de l’Academie (2000), the Wolf Prize in Mathematics (1995-96), the National Academy of Sciences Medal (1993) and the Cole Prize (1982). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Langlands is the author or co-author of numerous articles and the editor, with D. Ramakrishnan, of “The Zeta Functions of Picard Modular Surfaces,” Les Publications CRM, Montreal (1992).

The Nemmers Prizes are made possible through bequests from the late Erwin E. Nemmers, a former member of the Northwestern University faculty, and his brother the late Frederic E. Nemmers, both of Milwaukee. The prizes are awarded every other year. Previous recipients have been Peter A. Diamond (1994), Thomas J. Sargent (1996), Robert J. Aumann (1998), Daniel L. McFadden (2000), Edward C. Prescott (2002), and Ariel Rubinstein (2004) in economics and Yuri I. Manin (1994), Joseph B. Keller (1996), John H. Conway (1998), Edward Witten (2000), Yakov G. Sinai (2002), and Mikhael Gromov (2004) in mathematics.

Erwin Esser Nemmers, who persuaded his brother to join him in making a substantial contribution to Northwestern, served as a member of the faculty of the Kellogg School of Management from 1957 until his retirement in 1986. Along with his brother, Frederic E. Nemmers, he was a principal in a Milwaukee-based, family-owned church music publishing house.

Their gifts, totaling $14 million, were designated by Erwin and Frederic Nemmers for two purposes: the establishment of four endowed professorships in the Kellogg School of Management and the establishment of the Nemmers Prizes.

Consistent with the terms of the Nemmers bequests, the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics (named in honor of the Nemmers’ father) and the Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics (named by Erwin in honor of his brother) are designed to recognize “work of lasting significance” in the respective disciplines.

A third award, the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition, was awarded for the first time in 2004-05. Like the economics and mathematics prizes, the music prize will be awarded every other year, with a value of $100,000.

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