A 36-year-old Australian man from Perth has won the Fields Medal, also known as the Nobel Prize for mathematics.
Akshay Venkatesh, a professor at Stanford University in California, won his prize for synthesising a range of mathematical theories to solve the sub-convexity problem, a well-known problem in the maths community.
Former classmate Michael Giudici said that explaining his achievement to the general public is difficult. “If it was easy for me to explain, then he wouldn’t have received the Fields Medal,” said Guidici, professor of mathematics of the University of Western Australia (WA).
A Fields Medal is considered the ‘Nobel Prize’ of mathematics, the highest honour a mathematician can attain. Every four years, two to four mathematicians under the age of 40 are chosen to receive the award.
Cheryl Praeger, an associate of the Australian Academy of Science, had always known that Venkatesh would achieve great things in the world of mathematics.
“I was sure that he would achieve a great deal mathematically,” said Praeger “and I’m thrilled at his stunning success in being awarded a Fields Medal.”
When Venkatesh and Praeger first met he was 13, he was reading the blackboard in her office while his mother and Praeger were talking. The blackboard consisted of work that one of her doctoral students had completed. Curious about the work, Venkatesh asked Praeger what the problem was on the blackboard, and while explaining the details she found that Venkatesh was able to understand the research.
Now, a father of two daughters, four and seven, the joy of his life has shifted from mathematics to his children.
“He is a terrific father, a wonderful father. And yes, they are the joy of his life. They are the absolute joys of my life, too,” said his mother, Svetha Venkatesh who is a computing science major at Deakin University, ABC reported.
The only other Australian to win the award is Terence Tao in 2006.