The importance of hard work, achievement, faith and a dedication to finding the right answers was highlighted by János Áder, the President of Hungary, in his speech at Sándor Palace on Thursday 20 August 2020, when he awarded this year’s Hungarian Order of Saint Stephen to the Abel and Széchenyi Prize-winning mathematician Endre Szemerédi, who is professor emeritus at the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics and a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, one day before his 80th birthday.
“The Order of Saint Stephen is the most prestigious expression of respect from the Hungarian nation,” said President Áder. “We are here to pay tribute to the accomplishments of Endre Szemerédi and his epoch-making achievements in the science of mathematics, which have significantly enhanced Hungary’s reputation.”
- President János Áder presents the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary to the Abel and Széchenyi Prize-winning mathematician Endre Szemerédi, a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, on August 20, 2020, at the Feast of the Founding of the State and Saint Stephen at Sándor Palace. Photo: Noémi Bruzák / MTI
The President of the Hungarian Republic pointed out that this year’s recipient of the Order of Saint Stephen said the opportunity led him into a scientific career: on the good advice of a friend, he turned from a medical career to one in the field of mathematics and physics. “And the second coincidence came in the mid-1970s, when walking along the banks of the Danube, he recalled, proved and derived a mathematical theorem that had remained unsolved for almost 40 years. He solved the puzzle set by Pál Erdős and Pál Turán in 1936 ‘by accident’,” President Áder recalled, adding that “this mathematical derivation, which consisted of a theorem on a question, raised Endre Szemerédi to the forefront of scientific public life.
He soon established a reputation in the world of number theory and combinatorics, and, living up to the name of his illustrious predecessors, from that moment on became a master of problem solving. By having a theorem named after him, he ensured scientific immortality, in keeping with the very greatest,” the head of state said.
Praising the mathematician, President Áder said that Endre Szemerédi’s career, international job offers, research at the best universities, articles published individually and with his colleagues and the respectful recognition of his contemporaries were the result of far more than mere chance. “They required determination, hard work, achievement, and faith, as well as a determined search for the right answers,” he added.
“You have proved in a mathematical sense that chaos can be broken down into ordered parts. That is, even in the greatest uncertainty, there is always total certainty. Mathematics is everywhere. In nature and in social relations,” said the President Adér, who called Endre Szemerédi “a superstar mathmetician, a role model and a scientist who was able to establish a new school of thought.”