Right from the ancient times of Aryabhatta and Panini, right up to the modern day genius of Srinivasa Ramanujam and KS Chandrashekaran, Indian mathematicians have never failed to dazzle the world with their numeric abilities and logical brilliance. Taking forward the golden legacy of Indian mathematical genius is Prof. Manjul Bhargava.
Bagging the Field Medal
American mathematician of Indian origin, Manjul Bhargava, is the R. Brandon Fradd Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University. Born in August 1974 at Ontario, Canada, Mr. Bhargava grew up in Long Island, New York and is currently living in New Jersey State. Mr. Bhargava has just been awarded the Fields Medal, also known as the Nobel Prize of Mathematics. The International Mathematical Union (IMU) awards the Field Medal once every four years to mathematicians who are under 40 years of age – both for their contributions to the field of mathematics and for the ‘promise of future achievement’. Three others were awarded the honor this year, including Maryam Mirzakhani of Iranian origin – the first ever woman to be awarded the Fields Medal. Like Mr. Bhargava, Ms. Mirzakhani currently works in the US. Apart from these two, the other winners of this highest honor in mathematics are Prof Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in the UK, and Dr Artur Avila from Brazil. The medals of honour were presented at the International Congress of Mathematician in Seoul (August 13-21, 2014).
Contributions to mathematics
The Fields Medal award citation reads that Mr. Bhargava “is awarded a Fields Medal 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”. The citation also says that his work “based both on a deep understanding of the representations of arithmetic groups and a unique blend of algebraic and analytic expertise”. After having earned his PhD in mathematics from Princeton University in the year 2001, Mr. Bhargava started to teach there as a professor in 2003.
Among Mr. Bhargava’s best known works in the field of mathematics are his contributions in number theory. He has made profound discoveries that help us understand the relationships between numbers better. He propounded his unique explanation of German mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss’s theory of composition of binary forms using ancient Sanskrit texts attributed to Brahmagupta (623 CE) and the Rubik’s cube.
Other awards and recognitions
Among other prestigious awards received by Mr. Bhargava are the Fermat Prize awarded by the Toulouse Mathematics Institute, France (2011); the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize awarded by the Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology and Research Academy, India (2005); and the AMS Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Pure Mathematics (2005). He was deemed one of “Brilliant 10” by the Popular Science Magazine in 2002. In 2013, Mr. Bhargava was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences – among the premier academic bodies in the US that is responsible for advising the government on science and technology related issues.
His Indian heritage
Apart from being an accomplished mathematician, Mr. Bhargava is also a talented tabla player. His love of music and percussions led him to take up the tabla and he trained under accomplished masters including Ustad Zakir Hussain. In touch with his Indian roots, Mr. Bhargava learned Sanskrit from his grandfather Purushottam Lal Bhargava, who is himself an eminent scholar of Sanskrit and ancient Indian history. Mr. Bhargava often travels to India and works with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Indian Institutes of Technology in matters of teaching and pedagogy.
The award earned by Mr. Bhargava, Fields Medal was set up by eminent Canadian mathematician John Fields. It comes with a medal and a CAD 15,000 cash prize.