Indian-American computer scientist Subhash Khot, most well known for his "Unique Games Conjecture", has received the prestigious National Science Foundation's (NSF) $500,000 Alan T. Waterman Award.
The award is given annually to an outstanding young researcher in any field of science and engineering supported by the NSF. The honour includes a grant of $500,000 over three years for scientific research or advanced study in any field of science.
An Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay graduate, Khot is associate professor at the New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
A theoretical computer scientist, he works in an area called "Computational Complexity" which seeks to understand the power and limits of efficient computation.
"Subhash Khot is a gifted and ambitious young scientist," said NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr.
"He courageously tackles some of the most challenging computational problems, all the while advancing computer security, with vast consequences for the broader security of our personal identities, commercial interests, societal institutions...even for national security as a whole.
"Subhash is a brilliant theoretical computer scientist and is most well known for his Unique Games Conjecture," added Jeannette Wing, assistant director for NSF's Computer Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate.
"He has made many unexpected and original contributions to computational complexity and his work draws connections among optimisation, computer science, and mathematics."
Khot has made significant inroads to identifying "computational intractability" or problems that cannot be solved fast. He has uncovered a problem about probabilistic games called "the Unique Games Problem". His work shows that it lies at the core of a variety of intractable computational problems, NSF said.
Khot has received an NSF Career Award, a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship.
With his colleagues at NYU, Princeton, Rutgers University, and the Institute for Advanced Study, he is part of a $10-million NSF "Expeditions in Computing" grant under which the researchers are seeking to bridge fundamental gaps in our understanding of computational intractability.
Khot did his doctorate in computer science from Princeton University in 2003.
Currently, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Courant Institute, Khot was previously an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology (2004-07).