The **Nobel Prize** it is the most important and prestigious scientific award in the world, with one notable exception: the **mathematics**even if in fact this is the discipline that provides the **common language for all scientific disciplines**. To date, the highest honors in mathematics – so much so that they are called the “Nobel for mathematics” – are the **Fields Medal**awarded every 4 years by the International Mathematical Union, and the **Abel Prize**awarded annually by the King of Norway. But why doesn’t the Nobel Prize, which covers various disciplines such as medicine, chemistry, physics, economics, literature and peace, include mathematics?

There is a circle around this question **urban legend **which has become widespread over the decades. According to this story, the founder of the Nobel Prize himself, the Swedish scientist **Alfred Nobel**he would deliberately omit mathematics from the categories of his award because **a lover of his allegedly cheated on him with a mathematician** prominent, the Swede **Magnus Gustaf Mittag-Leffler**who would probably have been among the first in line to win the prize if Nobel had also established it for mathematics. To avoid injury as well as insult, Alfred Nobel would therefore completely gloss over mathematics while establishing the categories for his prize.

However, there is no evidence to support this narrative. A decidedly more realistic explanation calls into question the very motivation of the Nobel Prize, that is, to reward those who contribute **«greater benefits for humanity»**. Since Nobel was a very “practical” and result-oriented inventor and scientist, it is very likely that he did not consider mathematics – along with many other disciplines – capable of bringing concrete benefits to humanity. This is an opinion that today may seem a little strange or even short-sighted, but which was still quite widespread at the end of the 19th century, when Nobel established his prize: at the time it was common to think that mathematics was a field of knowledge as an end in itself which at most provided support to the hard sciences but did not have a concrete impact on people’s lives.

Today, however, we know that this is not the case, also because during the twentieth century we had the opportunity to experience first-hand numerous practical applications of mathematics. Literally: just think that the**informatics** was born as a direct application of mathematics. It is no coincidence that the founding fathers of computer science, including **Alan Turing** And **John Von Neumann**were great mathematicians. This means that **Without mathematics you couldn’t even read this article**!