Lennart Carleson of the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden won the $909,900 Abel Prize for mathematics on Thursday for his problem solving and contributions to advancing the discipline.
"Carleson is always far ahead of the crowd. He concentrates on only the most difficult and deep problems," Erling Stoermer, chairman of the Abel Committee, said in a statement.
Carleson, 78, is best known for work on the Fourier series — an observation that everything from the vibration of violin strings to the spread of heat through a metal bar can be explained by sums of wave patterns.
The prize, set up in 2003, is named after 19th-century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel, who died at 26. The award is 6 million Norwegian crowns, the equivalent of $909,900.
The prize statutes say it should aim to spur interest in mathematics among children and young people. So far, all winners of the prize have been in their 70s.