In one of Grigori Perelman's papers, on the first page there's a footnote where he says,

∗St.Petersburg branch of Steklov Mathematical Institute, Fontanka 27, St.Petersburg 191011, Russia. Email: [email protected] or [email protected] ; I was partially supported by personal savings accumulated during my visits to the Courant Institute in the Fall of 1992, to the SUNY at Stony Brook in the Spring of 1993, and to the UC at Berkeley as a Miller Fellow in 1993-95. I’d like to thank everyone who worked to make those opportunities available to me.

Is this footnote from his famous paper meant to be a joke, or is it actually necessary to list one's source of funding, even if it is just one's personal savings?

  • 33
    I interpret it as he listed the institutes he visited that helped him arrive at the proof, but also wanted to point out he wasn't paid via any grant or by any institution per se. Might look a bit jokingly for you, but he might in fact be more serious about it. Who knows.
    – user68958
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 11:56
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    There's a preprint that I can't find anymore where people acknowledge funding from several bank robbery in the Chicago area.
    – Adam
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 12:17
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    I don't think it is a joke. It is clear he is a man of integrity who would rather use his saved honestly earned money to do the work of his choice then to sell out to become some circus animal used by others to play with peoples heads. There's far enough people getting paid to do that in our world already. Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 18:20
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    Note that the time period here coincides with the period immediately following collapse of the soviet union and the, a period of time where funding for academics crashed, when many Russian Academics were looking to leave due to the dire financial situation and lack of funding for their projects. I would interpret this as an acknowledgement of the difficulties of that time period and the enormous help in his personal transition that was facilitated by western institutions.
    – crasic
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 0:10

4 Answers 4


No, it isn't required to list your own personal resources.

But whether it is a joke or not you should decide for yourself. Perelman has interesting views. He has declined a Fields Medal, for example.

  • Indeed, Perelman has a very fascinating and unique personality with strong views and an intrinisic interest in staying true to them, even in situations when every other person would give in. So I also think that this statement can only be seen in context. And yes, I think it is a hint to a much bigger problem in academia. Commented Jul 23, 2023 at 16:55

Indeed, funding agencies require authors to acknowledge their funding, but it's not mandatory to acknowledge personal resources.

To me, however, that footnote doesn't sound like a joke at all, but a sincere acknowledgement of those who have supported him during previous years allowing him to have savings (and during those visits he might have worked on different topics).

That said, there are certainly a lot of joking acknowledgments around.

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    Yes, if anything he's going out of his way to be courteous, by acknowledging institutions that didn't technically support the work in question in the usual sense.
    – user37208
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 15:48
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    Those savings probably took him far. Science funding in non-EU post-soviet countries is all state-controlled and pretty miserable, while cost of living is also low. I remember I made $500 from my week-long research trip to Poland and made it last a year in Ukraine. Enough to push my non-profit post-doc through the finish line right before my last pair of shoes fell apart. Certainly worth an acknowledgement. Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 9:49
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    I think it is important to mention self-funding if that is your primary source. Not mentioning any research funding will cause the work's validity to be called into question (hiding conflict-of-interest, supported by an illegal body etc). So, it if is self-funded (rare and a terrible idea, but possible), that should be mentioned.
    – Phil
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 23:30

I find the dichotomy of your title question a bit strange.

No, one is not required to acknowledge personal funding sources, but in academic papers one often acknowledges / otherwise thanks people and things in the absence of any requirement to do so.

Though I do not know Perelman personally, I know him by reputation: he is a person of great integrity. It is not a joke to thank people and places that supported you, especially if you have (by choice or otherwise) modest financial means.

I suggest that this footnote of Perelman's be taken at face value, as an expression of gratitude, which (like most expressions of gratitude!) was not required to be made.

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    Since you seem to be saying that you don't get why the OP might have thought this was intended humorously . . . imagine that a news article mentions someone named John Doe, and then there's a parenthetical note "disclosure: the editor of this newspaper is also named John Doe". The note serves a valid news purpose -- clarifying that this John Doe is not the same as the editor -- but it comes across as humorous because placing it in a "disclosure" notice makes it sound as if the shared name creates a potential conflict of interest. [continued]
    – ruakh
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 0:54
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    [continued] Similarly, an "I was partially supported by personal savings" notice, in the slot where one normally discloses/acknowledges funding sources, may come across as humorous, as if Perelman were disclosing/acknowledging himself as a funding source. (I agree with you that that was not his intention. But I understand why the OP would wonder.)
    – ruakh
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 0:55

I think it's worth remembering that Perelman left mathematics apparently with quite a disdain for the way academia/mathematics functions. Given that, the acknowledgements may be intended to highlight an aspect of academia that is not usually written about.

  • Perelman left mathematics (long) after he published his articles...
    – user142414
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 11:34
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    @Edi That doesn't mean he didn't have opinions when he did publish them. I don't claim to know, I just think it's an option that should be in the list.
    – Jessica B
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 16:23

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