Why Nobel Prize is not Given in Mathematics

The Nobel Prizes, established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, are revered as the world’s most prestigious awards, acknowledging outstanding contributions to fields such as Physics, Chemistry, Medicine or Physiology, Literature, and Peace. 

However, one glaring omission stands out: the absence of a Nobel Prize for Mathematics. 

In this comprehensive exploration, we aim to uncover the historical factors, theories, and misconceptions that have led to this notable exclusion.

Historical Context

The origins of the Nobel Prize for Mathematics, or rather the lack thereof, have sparked intrigue and debate. 

One theory suggests that Alfred Nobel’s personal rivalry with Swedish mathematician Gösta Mittag-Leffler influenced his decision to omit mathematics from the Nobel Prizes. 

However, there is limited concrete evidence to substantiate this claim.

Distinction Between Fields

A prevalent hypothesis for the absence of a Nobel Prize for Mathematics is the distinction Nobel made between mathematics and the natural sciences. 

Nobel designed his prizes to reward those endeavors that would have the most profound impact on humanity. 

Mathematics, he may have believed, did not fit this criterion as neatly as the other disciplines he included in the awards.

Practical Impact

Mathematics is often perceived as more abstract and less directly applicable to real-world problems than other Nobel Prize categories. 

This perception has led to some arguing that mathematical discoveries may not have the immediate, tangible benefits that Nobel sought to recognize. 

However, this view is increasingly challenged as the essential role of mathematics in various scientific and technological advancements becomes more evident.

Alternative Prizes

The absence of a Nobel Prize for Mathematics has given rise to other highly prestigious awards in the field. 

The Fields Medal, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics,” has emerged as a significant recognition for outstanding mathematicians under the age of 40. 

Additionally, the Abel Prize, established by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, is another esteemed accolade for mathematicians.

Tradition and Complex Change

Over a century has passed since Alfred Nobel’s establishment of the Nobel Prizes, and the omission of mathematics remains intact. 

Modifying the Nobel Prize categories is a complex and highly sensitive process, involving diplomatic considerations and the preservation of historical traditions. 

Many argue that it is essential to respect Nobel’s original vision and intentions.


It has long been a source of intrigue and thought to consider why there isn’t a Nobel Prize for mathematics. 

This omission has persisted and grown to be a crucial part of the Nobel Prize tradition, despite possible influences like personal animosities or the distinction between mathematics and the natural sciences. 

Even without the Nobel Prize, mathematics has made an indisputable contribution to the development of science and technology. 

It is impossible to overstate the profound influence that mathematics has on many facets of human life as it is the fundamental language of science. 

Even without the coveted Nobel Prize, the field of mathematics is still celebrated through honors like the Fields Medal and the Abel Prize, and its significance in influencing how we view the world has not diminished.


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