Okounkov is Professor of Mathematics at Columbia University, where he works on representation theory and its applications. Representation theory is a branch of mathematics concerned with abstract algebraic structures and their representation. It has applications to a number of disciplines, including geometry, physics, and probability theory.
Okounkov received his education at Moscow State University in Russia, where he was awarded the Ph.D. in 1995. Formerly, Okounkov was a professor of mathematics at Princeton University, and before that he taught mathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles.
Okounkov is widely regarded as one of the world’s experts on issues in abstract algebra, particularly an area known as infinite symmetric groups, where Okounkov and colleagues have published original and substantive results (for mathematicians: the Gromov-Witten and other invariants of threefolds in algebraic geometry). Okounkov won the coveted Fields Medal, the highest honor in mathematics, in 2006. He became a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.
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