The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awarded its prestigious Abel prize, a kind of surrogate for a Nobel prize in mathematics, to American Peter Lax, the academy said on Thursday. Hungarian-born Lax, 78, has been a professor at New York University since 1958. "He has had a profound influence, not only by his research, but also by his writing, his lifelong commitment to education and his generosity to younger mathematicians," the academy said. The prize, named for Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829), has been awarded since 2003. There is no Nobel prize for mathematics.