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- POSTPONEMENT OF THE NEMITSAS PRIZE 2020 IN MEDICINE
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- Σημαντική Ανακοίνωση
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- Speech by Professor Joseph Sifakis, President of the Prize Selection Committee at the Award Ceremony on the 4th October 2018

## Speech by Prof. Marios Mavronicolas at the Award Ceremony for the Nemitsas Prize in Mathematics, on 3rd October 2016

Your Excellency, Mr. President of the Republic,

Your Reverence,

Your Excellency, Mr. Ex-President of the Republic,

Honorable Ministers,

Dear Ambassadors,

Distinguished Guests,

Your Excellency, Mr. President of the Republic,

Your Reverence,

Your Excellency, Mr. Ex-President of the Republic,

Honorable Ministers,

Dear Ambassadors,

Distinguished Guests,

**Good evening,**

It is with great pleasure that I have the honor and the privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Takis and Louki Nemitsas Foundation, the work and the personality of Professor Demetrius Christodoulou, who is awarded tonight the 2016 Nemitsas Prize in Mathematics.

Demetrius Christodoulou was born in Athens, on October 1951. His father Lampros was born in Alexandreia by Greek Cypriot parents who had immigrated to Egypt. His grandfather Miltiades came from Saint Theodoros and his grandmother Maria came from Khirokitia. His mother Maria was born in Athens by parents who were refugees from Minor Asia, Greeks hiding Greece deep down their souls. As a child, Demetrius was raised up learning the grandeur of the Greek Nation and the contributions of Greeks to the world’s civilization. Since Demetrius was a small child, his Alexandrian father Lampros inspired to him an innumerable admiration for the Greek civilization, taking him to visit ancient monuments, museums and archaeological places and telling him in a characteristic way that ancient Greeks were **insurmountable.**

As a young boy, Demetrius attended the “Experimental Lyceum of Athens,” known today as the “Moraitis’ School”. His interests into Mathematics and Theoretical Physics became very strong when, at the age of 14, he came across a problem from Euclidian Geometry. Specifically, he was at the age of 14 when he was paid a huge effort into trying to solve some unsolvable problem in Mathematics, namely that of trisecting an angle, without knowing, of course, that a solution using ruler and compass were impossible. Demetrius confesses today that it was his ineffectual effort to search for a non-existing solution that brought him to suspect and appreciate the immense depth of Mathematics.

The focus of Demetrius’ intellectual journeys into Mathematics and Physics was soon concentrated onto Riemannian Geometry, the General Theory of Relativity due to of Einstein and Space-Time. In the 1960’s decade, Demetrius became a whizkid in Mathematics and Physics. He was on the second grade of Lyceum, in 1968, when the Athens’ newspapers published in huge titles: «Student -Einstein: A Gymnasium Student studies Advanced Mathematics and solves difficult problems». When he was a 16 years old teenager, Demetrius studied the Laplace transformation, and fourth year’s students at National Technical University of Athens were bringing their college problems to Demetrius, which Demetrius easily solved for them. The fame of young Demetrius soon spread out and reached some prominent Greek scientists abroad, such as the theoretical physicist Achilles Papapetrou and the famous mathematician Christos Papakyriakopoulos. The news spread and traversed the Atlantic.

At the age of 17, in 1968, Demetrius Christodoulou was leaving Greece, without having graduated from high-school, to continue his studies as a graduate student in Physics at Princeton University, USA. In the fall of 1970, just one month after his 19^{th} birthday, young Demetrius enjoyed the publication of his first scientific article, titled “Reversible and Irreversible Transformations in Black-Hole Physics”, which opened a new chapter in Physics, the Theormodynamics of Black Holes. **At the age of 20,** in 1971, Demetrius received his Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University. His Ph.D. Thesis, carried out under the supervision of Professor J. A. Wheeler, is a landmark in the Physics of Black Holes.

The development of the brightest research and academic career of Demetrius Christodoulou has since been booming. After a year, as a postdoctoral fellow at California Institute of Technology, he returned to Greece in 1972 as a Professor at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. However, soon thereafter he resigned and went on with his career as a researcher in CERN (in Geneva), in the International Center of Theoretical Physics of Trieste, in the Max-Planck Institute (in Munich), and in Courant Institute (in New York). In 1983 he was elected as Associate Professor at Syracuse University, in New York, where, two years later, he was promoted to Professor. In 1988, he returned to the Courant Institute as a Professor of Mathematics. From 1992 through 2001, he was Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, which is flourishing as a world’s leading center of excellence in Mathematics for the last 80 years. Since 2001 he moved to ETH Zurich, one of the most prestigious and prominent european universities, as a Professor of Mathematics and Physics.

In headers, a significant portion of the scientific work of Demetrius Christodoulou focuses on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, on the stability of the Minkowski Space, on the creation of Black Holes in vacuum under strong gravitational waves and on three-dimensional fluids. A recurrent theme in his work is **the solution of hard** **Differential Equations** that arise in it.

The main work for which the Laureate is internationally famous has to do with the equations in Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Demetrius Christodoulou invented breakthrough techniques for solving and evaluating the solutions to Einstein’s equations, which, although so elegant in their statement, soon became famous for being notoriously hard to solve. Solving them in a way that would lead to a substantial result had encountered formidable mathematical difficulties for many years since 1915 they were stated. .

In the framework of the General Theory, Demetrius Christodoulou has established the stability of Space-Time, or Minkowski Space, in which we are living. If I were permitted to explain, I would say that Minkowski Space is a mathematical space providing the most suitable home for the representation of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. In this space, one finds the standard three dimensions of space combined with the time dimension to form a four-dimensional topological multiplicity for the representation of Space-Time. The Laureate has established that gravitational waves are non-linear ad infinitum, and he thereby stated and proved precise mathematical theorems about the creation of Black Holes. His doctoral thesis already contained the brilliant idea that led other prominent researchers, such as Hawking and Bekenstein, to the ultimate statements of the Thermodynamics of Black Holes and of Hawking Radiation. Last but not least the work of Professor Christodoulou in the Theory of Differential Equations, besides their immense significance for Mathematics, are also very important for the study of Fluid Dynamics. Through his whole work, the Laureate reveals in a truly elegant and unique way the mysterious, and perhaps amorous, relation between Mathematics and Physics.

The brightest career of Professor Christodoulou is full with many, significant prizes and distinctions. In 1981 he received the Otto Hahn Medal in Mathematical Physics from the Max Planck Society. In 1991 he received the Vassilios Xanthopoulos Prize from the International Association for General Relativity and Gravitation. In 1993 he received an Honorary Fellowship from Mac Arthur Foundation in Mathematics and Physics. In 1996 he received the Science Award from the Academy of Athens. In 1998 he was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. The most significant prize given by the American Mathematical Society in the field of Analysis is the Bocher Memorial Prize, which was awarded to Christodoulou in 1999. In 2006 he received, jointly with Professor Athanassios Fokas, the Bodossaki Award. In 2008 he was awarded the Tomalla Prize from the Tomalla Foundation for applying General Relativity to Astronomy. In 2009 the President of the Greek Republic awarded Demetrius Christodoulou with the Commander Grade of the Order of Phoenix.

In 2011 the Shaw Foundation decided to award Professor Demetrius Christodoulou, jointly with Professor Richard Hamilton, who is another giant of modern Mathematics, the Shaw Prize in Mathematics. The Shaw Prize, sometimes called the Asian Nobel Prize, is widely considered, together with the Norwegian Abel Prize, one of the two most prominent international prizes in Mathematics. The two professors were honored for their work in Non-Linear Differential Equations and in Lorentz και Riemannian Geometries, and their applications to General Theory of Relativity and Topology.

Demetrius Christodoulou has been elected as Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the European Academy of Sciences, of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America since 2012, and of Academia Europea as of this year. Moreover, he has received Honorary Doctorates from a handful of prestigious universities worldwide, such as Brown University, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the National Technical University of Athens, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Cyprus in 2003. He has delivered an impressive number of honorary lectures as Keynote and Distinguished Speaker in universities, conferences and research institutes worldwide. For example, he has delivered the Keynote Lecture at the International Congress of Mathematical Physics in 2009 and at the International Congress of Mathematics in 2014.

Demetrius Christodoulou delivers astonishingly accessible lectures. In his speeches the audience enjoys rich sentiments and is led to feel extremely familiar and comfortable with the speaker. He uses to speak with no written speech, and this creates a lot of good feelings in the audience. When once he was asked to explain that, he said that he is not preparing a text for his speeches in order to not destroy oral caprice! He then wondered whether Alexander the Great ever spoke out of a written text and humorously remarked that some politicians use written texts because they read, perhaps, what their political consultants have written for them. His speeches are full of parentheses, brackets and references, in the same way, perhaps, the thought of Mathematics is.

The Laureate is the author of many established and classical monographs. Furthermore, he has supervised a significant number of doctoral dissertations, and he has exceeded all expectations in displaying a keen interest in supporting, highlighting and promoting young and promising scientists with strong talents in Mathematics.

Both Greece and Cyprus are represented today quite successfully by many excellent scientists in the international community of Mathematics. A substantial cause of this success owes undoubtedly to the influence and impact exercised by Demetrius Christodoulou to the mathematicians from Greece and Cyprus, either directly through teaching and research collaboration, or indirectly with Demetrius being the prime example of a bright scholar to follow.

Even though the bulk of his professional career lies in Switzerland, Demetrius Christodoulou is maintaining a most vivid interest in academic matters and developments in Greece, where he visits to deliver lectures in every possible occasion. Of paramount interest has remained the lecture he delivered at the Old Parliament of Athens, with subject «The Mathematics in Ancient Alexandreia, Euclid -- Archimedes», held under the auspices of the association «Friends of the Library of Alexandreia». His lecture, which traveled him back to Alexandreia, has been archived in an extended form in a book with the same title, which was published by the Eurasia Press --- it is, perhaps, his first book in Greek. His eyes are shining every time he talks about the Mathematics of ancient Greeks, his second major passion. In every occasion he points out that the contribution of ancient Greeks to modern Mathematics is not taught in Greece to the extent it ought to be taught, despite the huge interest in ancient Greek Mathematics around the globe.

Please allow me to transfer verbatim to you a splendid statement of the Laureate on the social crisis in Greece: «I remember the times when I was a small child, Greece had a very low standard of living, but a very high intellectual level. It is a fact that our country is giving a not so great picture of itself to the outside. The era when there were Greeks with international effulgence is now left behind. We are showing the picture of a country where, unfortunately, it is the most impudent and irresponsible people that make it through and survive».

Demetrius Christodoulou is internationally recognized as a strongest promoter of scientific ethics and selfless search for the truth. Your first encounter with him will convince you beyond any doubt for his outstanding mind and his charismatic personality. He is intimate, well-cultivated, generous, kind-hearted and above all friendly and humane.

The Laureate is quite justifiably classified as one of the international giants in Mathematics today. Summarizing up his work and personality, I feel truly proud to declare that all is about a leading, talented and gifted human entity who, through his scientific work in Mathematics, honors the Greek nation internationally. Please allow me to dare to say that, in my opinion, Demetrius Christodoulou is a contemporary Caratheodory.

We hope, Professor Christodoulou, that your tonight’s award with the 2016 Nemitsas Prize will further strengthen your connections with your remote and beloved, though still divided, motherland Cyprus, which, we know, you always remember and love.

** **

**Ladies and Gentlemen, **

In closing, please allow me to state, with no trace of exaggeration, that today, through the award of the 2016 Nemitsas Prize to Cypriot origin’s Professor Demetrius Christodoulou, which will be given to him in a few minutes by the President of the Republic of Cyprus in this decent ceremony, the Nemitsas Foundation is honoring Demetrius Christodoulou for his contributions to Mathematics. But also Demetrius Christodoulou is honoring, through his presence here, the Nemitsas Foundation, and Cyprus at large.

Prominent Greek originating from Saint Theodoros and Khirokitia of Cyprus, charismatic and insurmountable scientist, scholar, mentor, colleague and friend Demetrius, we thank you very humbly for everything you have contributed and for the honor you are bringing to all of us tonight. I welcome you to the circles of the Takis and Louki Nemitsas Prize Laureates.

3.10.2016