The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Princeton University professor is first Canadian to win math's highest honour

  • Print

A 39-year-old Canadian-born mathematician has won a prestigious award often described as the Nobel Prize in math.

Princeton University math professor Manjul Bhargava, who was born in Hamilton, received the Fields Medal on Wednesday in Seoul.

The medal, which is math's highest honour, was first awarded in 1936 and was named after another Canadian mathematician — John Charles Fields, who was also born in Hamilton.

It is managed by the International Mathematical Union (IMU), who says Bhargava is being recognized "for developing powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers."

The Fields Medal and a cash prize of US$13,700 are awarded every four years to mathematicians 40 years old or younger.

According to the IMU, Bhargava, whose parents came to Canada from India before moving to the U.S., joined Princeton in 2003 after receiving his doctorate in mathematics from the university in 2001.

The school says Bhargava is known for his popular seminar for incoming students, which explores the mathematical principles behind games and magic tricks.

He has also received numerous other awards and was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2013. He was named one of Popular Science magazine's "Brilliant 10" in 2002.

Bhargava was in Seoul for a week-long conference and could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In a Princeton news release, he acknowledged those who worked alongside him, saying, "this is their prize too."

"I am, of course, very honoured," Bhargava said. "Beyond that, it is a great source of encouragement and inspiration, not just for me, but I hope also for my students, collaborators and colleagues who work with me."

University of Montreal math professor Andrew Granville, who designed a summer course for his students on Bhargava's work, said Bhargava has made breakthroughs in number theory — the study of whole numbers.

Granville, who has met Bhargava dozens of times at conferences, added that Bhargava has a unique thought process, with an ability to "get to the crux of the matter."

"His approach tends to be somewhat less technical than the others," he said.

"Some of these people are working on stuff you need years and years to really understand what they're trying to do.

"Bhargava's program — I wouldn't say easy — but you have some opportunity to get to grips with it in a relatively short amount of time."

Three other mathematicians received the prize this year, including Maryam Mirzakhani, a Stanford University professor, Artur Avila, a Brazilian-born professor at the Institute of Mathematics of Jussieu in Paris and Martin Hairer of the University of Warwick in England.

Mirzakhani, 37, who was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, where she earned her bachelor's degree, is the first woman to win the award.

"This is a great honour. I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians," she said in a statement released by Stanford. "I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years."

_ With files from The Associated Press.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

City Beautiful trailer: How architecture shaped Winnipeg's DNA

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A gaggle of Canada geese goslings at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg Monday- See Project Honk Day 05- May 07, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Goose sits in high grass near Marion Friday afternoon for cover -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 18 - May 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Has the attack on Parliament hill shaken your faith in Canada's ability to protect its citizens from terrorist threats?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google