Grigory Perelman solved the Poincaré conjecture, one of the seven so-called “Millennium Problems” set out by the Massachusetts-based Clay Mathematics Institute.
The prize for proving the Poincaré conjecture which is linked to the understanding of multidimensional shapes, is a million dollars, which he rejected. In 2006 he was offered the Fields Medal, the highest honor in the world of mathematics. However, he became the only person ever to turn it down, though not without attempts to convince him otherwise.(Not many people get both of them and he rejected both…just how much this guy was disgusted)
Perelman is quoted in an article in “The New Yorker” saying that he is disappointed with the ethical standards of the field of mathematics. Perelman said, “I can’t say I’m outraged. Other people do worse. Of course, there are many mathematicians who are more or less honest. But almost all of them are conformists. They are more or less honest, but they tolerate those who are not honest.” He has also said that “It is not people who break ethical standards who are regarded as aliens. It is people like me who are isolated.”
This, combined with the possibility of being awarded a Fields medal, led him to quit professional mathematics. He has said that “As long as I was not conspicuous, I had a choice. Either to make some ugly thing or, if I didn’t do this kind of thing, to be treated as a pet. Now, when I become a very conspicuous person, I cannot stay a pet and say nothing. That is why I had to quit.”
In 2003 Perelman left the St. Petersburg institute where he worked. He’s reportedly given up mathematics altogether, is unemployed and living with his mother where he plays table tennis against the wall(quoted by a magazine). But whether he likes it or not, his huge contribution to the field of mathematics will be remembered for a long time.
A recent snap of him in St. Petersburg metro.