Manjul Bhargava, a Canadian-American teaching at Princeton University, has become the first mathematician of Indian origin to win the Fields Medal, the highest honour bestowed on scientists under the age of 40 for outstanding contribution to the field of mathematics.
Artur Avila from Brazil, Martin Hairer from Austria and Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian who teaches at Stanford University, have also been chosen for the medal, considered the Nobel Prize of mathematics, announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Seoul. Avila is the first Latin American and Mirzakhani the first woman to win the award.
For India as well as for Bhargava, the medal has been a long time coming. Lauded by the International Mathematical Union for “developing powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers”, Bhargava, best known for his work on elliptical curves, was tipped to win the medal the last time around in 2010. Born in 1974 in Canada to migrant parents from Jaipur, Bhargava, 40, is a number theorist of international repute.
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Adding to the jubilation, the Rolf Nevanlinna prize, for outstanding contributions in mathematical aspects of information sciences including computer science, has also been bagged by an Indian-origin scientist — Subhash Khot, a professor in the Computer Science Department at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.