Home > Awards > Basic Science Lifetime Awards (BSLA)

Basic Science Lifetime Awards

The first Basic Science Lifetime Awards are awarded to extraordinary scientists whose work in basic science has been both outstanding and innovative and have, over the course of the past thirty years or more, brought about fundamental change in his or her discipline. This top global prize for basic science has no restrictions on nationality, gender, race, ethnicity, or age. The Basic Science Lifetime Award, by recognizing great advances in basic science, attempts to encourage scientists to remain bold and curious in their scientific endeavors and pursuit of the truth, and to attract more young students to love and devote their energy to research in basic science. 

David B. Mumford

"For his fundamental contributions to algebraic geometry."

1974 Fields Medalist, Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Foreign Member of the Britain's Royal Society, Professor at Harvard University & Brown University, former President of  the International Mathematical Union.


"David Mumford receives the 2023 Basic Science Lifetime Award in mathematics for his fundamental contributions to algebraic geometry.

Prominent among his contributions to algebraic geometry are the fundamental ideas he introduced to shape the modern theory of moduli spaces. Examples of moduli spaces include parameter spaces for families of algebraic varieties and algebraic objects over them. The problem of construction and geometry of moduli spaces has a long history going back to Riemann. Mumford achieved his goal by developing the theory of Geometric Invariant Theory where he introduced the concept of stability. The concept of stability has found important applications in many directions including the modern theory of geometric analysis. 

He applied his theory to construct moduli spaces of algebraic curves and abelian varieties. In collaboration with Harris, he proved that the moduli space of curves of high odd genus is of general type. His works paved the way to understand moduli spaces of more general algebraic varieties and sheaves over them. 

Via a different approach, he constructed moduli spaces of abelian varieties using Theta functions and therefore gave explicit algebraic equations of these moduli spaces. The theory led to deep understanding of Theta functions. Mumford proved that all abelian varieties over positive characteristics can be lifted to characteristic zero. With Bombieri, he extended the classification theory of algebraic surfaces to positive characteristics. 

In the 1980's, Mumford shifted from algebraic geometry to theoretical foundations of intelligence, both natural and artificial, where he made important contributions. 

There is no doubt that Mumford is one of the greatest living mathematicians."

Selection Commitee Mathematics 


Shing-Tung Yau

YMSC, BIMSA, Qiuzhen College


Caucher Birkar

Nicolai Reshetikhin



Committee Members:

Simon Donaldson

Stony Brook University

Björn Engquist

University of Texas at Austin

Kenji Fukaya

Stony Brook University

David Kazhdan

Einstein Institute of Mathematics

Maxim Kontsevich


Vladimir Markovic

University of Oxford

Ken Ribet

University of California

Richard Schoen

University of California

Benjamin Sudakov

ETH Zurich

Claire Voisin

Centre national de la recherche scientifique

Adi Shamir

"For his profound contributions to modern cryptography and computational complexity."

A.M. Turing Award 2002, Professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Member of the Israeli Academy, the National Academy of Sciences, the Academia Europaea, the French Academy of Science, and the Royal Society. 


"Adi Shamir is a founder of modern cryptography, whose revolutionary contributions over 50 years have provided key concepts and algorithms that helped shape this most important field.

Shamir is a co-inventor of the RSA public-key cryptography algorithm. In their 1978 paper “A method for obtaining digital signatures and public-key cryptosystems”, Rivest, Shamir and Adleman presented the first realistic implementation of public-key cryptosystem (a concept invented by Diffie and Hellman) which is ideal for internet applications. RSA is practical and theoretically elegant, and has been the most widely used encoding-decoding scheme in internet commercial applications.
Shamir’s 1979 paper “How to share a secret” showed how information about a master-key can be divided up among a group of users, so that the master-key cannot be reconstructed unless a quorum of the users pool together their shares of the information. Shamir’s secret-sharing scheme stands as among the most essential tools used in cryptography today. Other outstanding contributions initiated by Shamir include the identity-based cryptography, differential cryptanalysis (with Biham), and visual cryptography (with Naor) among others. Shamir also made seminal contributions to computational complexity theory. His 1992 paper “IP = PSPACE” resolved a major open problem regarding the power of interaction. 
Shamir is a formidable leader in computer science. His illustrious work will continue to influence the world for years to come. 

Selection Committee Theoretical Computer & Information Sciences


Andrew Yao

Tsinghua University


Qionghai Dai

Shing-Tung Yau

Tsinghua University

YMSC, BIMSA, Qiuzhen College

Committee Members:

John Hopcroft

Cornell University

Michael Jordan

University of California, Berkeley

Joseph Sifakis

Southern University of Sciences and Technology

Niklaus Wirth

ETH Zurich (Retired)

Xiang Zhang

University of Hong Kong, University of California, Berkeley