Indian-origin academician Manjul Bhargava, a professor of mathematics at Princeton University, has been awarded the 2014 Fields Medal — known as the ‘Nobel Prize’ of mathematics — in recognition for his work in developing “powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers”.
Bhargava, 40, was among four winners awarded the medal, which is given out every four years by the International Mathematical Union to researchers under the age of 40 based on the influence of their existing work and on their “promise of future achievement”.
Iranian-born mathematician and Stanford University professor Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the medal, since the prize was established in Canada in 1924.
Bhargava, who is an accomplished musician and plays the tabla expertly, is the eighth Fields Medal recipient from Princeton since 1954 and the third consecutive awardee from the university.
“I am of course very honoured to be receiving the Fields Medal,” Bhargava said. “It is a great source of encouragement and inspiration”.
The prize committee commended Bhargava “for developing powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers, which he applied to count rings of small rank and to bound the average rank of elliptic curves”.
Born in 1974 in Canada, Bhargava grew up primarily in the US but also spent much time in India. He received his PhD in 2001 from Princeton University and later became a professor there in 2003. He has been previously awarded the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize (2005) and the Infosys Prize (2012) besides winning several teaching awards.
Another Indian-origin academician Subhash Khot, a New York University professor of computer science and a Princeton alumnus, was awarded the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize that honors “outstanding contributions in mathematical aspects of information sciences”.
Khot, who got his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the IIT Bombay in 1999 and stood first in the IIT-JEE 1995, was recognized for his “prescient definition of the Unique Games problem”. His work has led to breakthroughs in algorithmic design.