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Manjul Bhargava wins mathematics 'Nobel'

Last updated on: August 13, 2014 11:55 IST

Image: Manjul Bhargava
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/ P Rajendran/ in New York

Manjul Bhargava makes history!

Manjul Bhargava, the Indian-American number theorist, was one of four people awarded the Fields Medal, the top prize in mathematics, at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul on Wednesday.

Dr Bhargava, the Brandon Fradd professor of mathematics at Princeton University, has made his name for his work on prime numbers in number theory.

The award, officially dubbed the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics, is given every four years to mathematicians not over 40 years old. Bhargava turned 40 August 8.

The other winners are Maryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford and the first woman to win the Fields Medal; Artur Avila of the National Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics in Brazil and the National Center for Scientific Research in France; and Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in England.

The Fields Medal is often considered to be mathematics' equivalent of the Nobel Prize.


Manjul Bhargava wins mathematics 'Nobel'

Image: Dr Bhargava, the winner of India Abroad's first Face of the Future Award, with with Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani at the India Abroad awards.
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/ P Rajendran/

The honour is named after John Charles Fields, and has been awarded every four years since 1950.

Videos by the Simon Foundation about the winners preceded the actual awards being handed out. Dr Bhargava's began with a clip.

In it, he described how he came upon his seminal idea when a graduate student. He described how he found a way to address a problem involving Gauss compositions when he thought of removing the top of a Rubik's cube and work with the remaining layers

Dr Bhargava, the winner of the 2008 India Abroad Face of the Future award, said he has worked on techniques involving the geometry of numbers. He described the pleasure of his work as being 'not for the application, but for the most beautiful mathematics out there.'

Dr Bhargava is born of Indian parents who migrated from Jaipur in the late 1950s. Once the youngest full professor at Princeton University, he often collaborates with Indian mathematicians at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.

Yoshita Singh/PTI adds:

Another Indian mathematician, Subhash Khot, has won the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize, awarded by the International Mathematical Union in Seoul.

Dr Khot was awarded the Nevanlinna Prize for his 'prescient definition of the Unique Games problem, and leading the effort to understand its complexity and its pivotal role in the study of efficient approximation of optimisation.

Educated at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Dr Khot teaches at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University.