The George Pólya Prize for Mathematical Exposition, established in 2013, is awarded every two years to an outstanding expositor of the mathematical sciences. The prize may be awarded for a specific work or for the cumulative impact of multiple expository works that communicate mathematics effectively. Following Pólya’s example, the nature of the work may range from popular accounts of mathematics and mathematical discovery to pedagogy to systematic organization of mathematical knowledge.

The prize committee will consist of a panel of five SIAM members appointed by the president. One of the members will be designated by the president as chair. Members of the prize committee must be appointed at least eighteen months before the prize award date.

The committee for each prize award serves from the date of appointment until the prize is awarded. If the committee reports that no prize winner has been chosen, and if this report is accepted by the Executive Committee of the SIAM Council, the committee's duties will be completed.

The prize committee will follow the ‘best practices’ set out in the SIAM document for Selection Committees. The prize committee will follow the SIAM rules for conflicts of interest as posted on the SIAM website.

The prize may be awarded to multiple individuals but only for contributions to their collaborative work.

Strong preference should be given by the prize committee to selecting one person as the prize winner. The prize committee will notify the president of its recommendation at least ten months before the prize award date. The committee's report must include a written justification (a short report on the committee's deliberations that justifies the recommendation) and a citation of about 100 words that may be read at the time of the award.

The Selection Committee has the authority to choose to abstain from giving the award if there is no acceptable individual. If the award is not given for this reason, a new selection committee will be selected for the next award cycle.[1]

The president will report the committee's recommendation to the Executive Committee of the SIAM Council, which will accept or reject the committee's choice not later than eight months before the award date.

If the prize committee's nomination is accepted by the Executive Committee of the SIAM Council, the award presentation will be made as described later. If the initial nomination is not accepted, the prize committee may present a second nomination, in sufficient time for the Executive Committee of the SIAM Council to make a decision at least seven months before the award date.

The president will notify the recipient not later than six months prior to the award date.

The recipient of the George Pólya Prize for Mathematical Exposition shall receive an engraved medal, a cash award, and reasonable expenses for travel to the award ceremony from the prize fund. The amount of the award is $10,000.

In the exceptional case of multiple winners, the prize money will be shared and reasonable travel expenses for one recipient to attend the award ceremony will be provided.

The prize is given every two years.

The prize will be awarded by the president at the SIAM annual meeting.

The George Pólya Prize was established in 1969 as a quadrennial prize in combinatorics. It was extended in scope in 1992, following a generous bequest from the estate of Stella V. Pólya. It was extended to be given biennially alternately in two categories: (1) for a notable application of combinatorial theory; (2) for a notable contribution in another field of interest to George Polya, such as approximation theory, complex analysis, number theory, orthogonal polynomials, probability theory, or mathematical discovery and learning. In 2013, the George Pólya Prize for Mathematical Exposition (first awarded in 2015) was created to bring greater emphasis to Pólya’s legacy of communicating mathematics effectively. At the same time, the biennial prize was divided into two quadrennial prizes, the George Pólya Prize in Combinatorics (based on the former category 1 and first awarded in 2016) and the George Pólya Prize in Mathematics (based on the former category 2 and first awarded in 2014).

[1] An award decision will also be postponed to the next cycle if the number of nominations does not meet the required number to forward to the selection committee.

Back to George Pólya Prize for Mathematical Exposition