2018 Frederic Esser Nemmers Mathematics Prize Recipient

Assaf Naor

2018 Nemmers Prize in Mathematics Recipient

Assaf Naor

Princeton University

For his profound work on the geometry of metric spaces, which has led to breakthroughs in the theory of algorithms.

Naor’s specialty is analysis and geometry, with additional interest in related questions in combinatorics, probability and theoretical computer science.

Naor has discovered structural properties of metric spaces and introduced geometric invariants that have a variety of powerful applications to several areas. He has also made major contributions to extension of Lipschitz functions, Grothendieck inequalities, and several other topics in analysis. These have decisive applications to theoretical computer science. Much of Naor’s work is motivated by a program to uncover a hidden dictionary that translates ideas and phenomena that occur in the more structured and well-understood setting of linear normed spaces to the realm of general metric spaces. A rigidity theorem of Martin Ribe from the mid-1970s indicates that such a dictionary exists in principle, but it does not give any explicit information about specific entries in that dictionary. This gives rise to a rich web of deep analogies and conjectures that underlies much of Naor’s research and leads to unifying analytic insights about geometric objects that occur throughout the mathematical sciences.       

Naor’s honors include the Bergmann Memorial Award (2007), the European Mathematical Society Prize (2008), the Salem Prize (2008), the Bôcher Memorial Prize (2011), the Pazy Memorial Research Award (2011), and the Blavatnik Award (2012). He was named a Packard Fellow in 2008 and a fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012.

Naor was an invited speaker at the 2010 International Congress of Mathematicians in Hyderabad. He gave a plenary address at several meetings, including the 2008 Clay Research Conference and the 2012 National Meeting of the American Mathematical Society. He delivered lecture series at several universities, including the Zygmund-Calderón Lectures (University of Chicago, 2011), Takagi Lectures of the Mathematical Society of Japan (Kyoto University, 2012), Minerva Lectures (Princeton University, 2013) and Blyth Lectures (University of Toronto, 2016). He is a plenary speaker at the 2018 International Congress of Mathematicians in Rio de Janeiro.

Naor is the author of more than 120 articles. He serves as editor of several journals, including the Journal of the American Mathematical Society (JAMS). He is a member of the scientific advisory boards of institutions that include the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) and the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM). He is the director of the Algorithms and Geometry (A&G) Think Tank at the headquarters of the Simons Foundation in NYC. 

 A native of Israel, Naor obtained his B.Sc. (1996), M.Sc. (1998) and Ph.D. (2002) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His doctoral advisor was Joram Lindenstrauss. From 2002 through 2006 he was a member of the Theory Group of Microsoft Research (2002-2003 as a Postdoctoral Researcher and 2003-2006 as a Researcher). From 2006 to 2014 he was a faculty member at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University (2006-2009 as an Associate Professor of Mathematics and 2009-2014 as a Professor of Mathematics). Since 2014 he is a Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University. In the academic year 2017-2018 he is a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study.