Akshay Venkatesh, 36, is an Indian-born Australian mathematician, who is one among the four recipients of this year’s Field Medal, often regarded as Noble Prize in mathematics. Field Medal is the highest honor to a mathematician, and is given every four years for those below the age of 40.
The Field Medal was given to Akshay at the International Congress of Mathematics, held in Rio de Janerio. He is the second Indian-origin person to win the prestigious prize after Manjul Bhargava, a Princeton University graduate, in 2014.
Akshay was recognised for his use of dynamics theory, which studies the equation of moving objects to solve the problem in number theory. It is the study of whole numbers, prime numbers, and integers. Akshay has won many awards for his contribution in the field of Mathematics. He is the recipient of the Salem prize (2007), Sastra Ramanujan Prize (2008), Infosys Prize (2016) and Ostrowoksi Prize (2017).
The Field Medal prize consists of a gold medal and an award of Canadian $15,000. The prize was first inaugurated in 1932 at the request of Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields. He had organised the 1924 Mathematics Congress in Toronto, as per The Hindu.
In an interview, Akshay spoke about his interest in Mathematics and said,
A lot of the time, when you do the math, you’re stuck. But you feel privileged to work with it – you have a feeling of transcendence and feel like you’ve been part of something really meaningful.
Born in 1981 in New Delhi, Akshay was a child prodigy. At the age of 11, he won a bronze medal at the International Physics Olympiad. After switching his subject to Mathematics, he won two medals at the International Mathematics Olympiad.
Akshay moved to Perth with his parents when he was two-years-old. He completed his high school at the age of 13 and went on to study at the University of Western Australia. He completed the second-year Math course after he proved that he could write all the first-year subject’s exams. At the age of 16, in 1997, he earned first-class honors in pure mathematics, and was the youngest to do so, reports The Guardian. At the age of 20, in 2002, he earned his Ph.D. from the Princeton University. He was awarded a post-doctoral position – an instructor at CLE Moore at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is a prestigious position. In 2004, he became a Clay research fellow and was appointed associate professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York Univesity. He became a professor at the age of 27 at the Stanford University, and is now a faculty member at the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS).