Indian-Origin Mathematician Akshay Venkatesh Wins Fields Medal, The Nobel of Mathematics


Akshay Venkatesh, an Australian mathematician of Indian origin, was one of four winners of the Fields medal announced recently. The Fields Medal, often regarded as the Nobel Prize for mathematics, is given every four years to mathematicians under the age of 40. Venkatesh, 36, is the second Australian to win the medal. He got the award for his use of dynamics theory, which studies the equations of moving objects to solve problems in number theory.

New Delhi-born Venkatesh is currently teaching at Stanford University has won the Fields Medal for his profound contributions to an exceptionally broad range of subjects in mathematics.  The citation for Venkatesh’s medal awarded at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Rio de Janeiro highlights his profound contributions to an exceptionally broad range of subjects in mathematics and his strikingly far-reaching conjectures.

The prize was inaugurated in 1932 at the request of Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields, who ran the 1924 Mathematics Congress in Toronto. Each winner receives a 15,000 Canadian-dollar cash prize. At least two, and preferably four people, are always honoured in the award ceremony.

From being a child prodigy to becoming one of the most renowned researchers in the field of mathematics, Venkatesh’s journey has been full of achievements and accolades. He moved to Perth, Australia, with his parents when he was 2 years old.

He participated in physics and math Olympiads, the premier international competitions for high school students and won medals in the two subjects at ages 11 and 12, respectively. He finished high school when he was 13 and went to the University of Western Australia, graduating with first class honours in mathematics in 1997, at the age of 16.

In 2002, he earned his PhD at the age of 20. Since then, he has gone from holding a post-doctoral position at MIT to becoming a Clay Research Fellow and, now a professor at Stanford University. Mr. Venkatesh has worked at the highest level in number theory, arithmetic geometry, topology, automorphic forms and ergodic theory. His research has been recognized with many awards, including the Ostrowski Prize, the Infosys Prize, the Salem Prize and Sastra Ramanujan Prize.

The other three winners are: Caucher Birkar, a Cambridge University professor of Iranian Kurdish origin; Germany’s Peter Scholze, who teaches at the University of Bonn and Alessio Figalli, an Italian mathematician at ETH Zurich.