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Genius wins maths ‘Nobel’

Australian mathematician Akshay Venkatesh has won the Fields Medal, the maths equivalent of a Nobel Prize, the Canberra Times reports.

Professor Venkatesh, 36, became only the second Australian to win the Fields when he received the medal at a ceremony overnight in Brazil.

Indian-Australian mathematician Professor Akshay Venkatesh has been awarded the Fields Medal, the ‘Nobel Prize of mathematics’, for his research in number theory.

It immediately marks him as one of Australia’s greatest minds, capping a journey that began at university in Perth, aged just 12.

The Fields is awarded every four years by the International Congress of Mathematicians for “outstanding mathematical achievement” by researchers under 40.

Professor Venkatesh’s major work has been on number theory: the study of pure numbers, which he does as a professor at Princeton University.

“If it was easy for me to explain it to you, he wouldn’t have won the Fields,” says childhood friend Michael Giudici, a professor of mathematics at the University of Western Australia where they both studied.

The pair became friends in their second-year studies, when Professor Giudici was 18. Akshay Venkatesh was 12. He is believed to be the youngest person to enrol at UWA.

“And he was much better than all the rest of us,” Professor Giudici says.

On the day that Professor Cheryl Praeger first met Professor Venkathesh, she had been working on solving a set of difficult problems with her PhD students and the formulas were chalked up on the blackboard.

“He really wished to do something extraordinary in his mathematical research,” she said.

“The award of the Fields Medal has proved that he’s succeeded in this.”


Aussie genius who started university at 12 wins ‘Nobel Prize of maths’ (Canberra Times)


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