John Griggs Thomspon
Born: October 13, 1932 in Ottawa, Kansas
John Griggs Thompson and Jacques Tits shared the 2008 Abel Prize for their contributions to group theory, a mathematical topic focused on the relationships of reflections and rotations in polyhedra. Group theory has been widely applied in areas of science based on molecular structure.
The prize is named for the brilliant Norwegian mathematician Niels Abel (1802-1829 ) and was worth US $1.2 million in 2008. Math majors will recognize the name of "abelian groups" and an indirect historical connection to the work of Thompson and Tits on nonabelian finite simple groups.