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Akshay Venkatesh | The journey of Indian-born Australian prodigy to Fields Medal

Indian born Australian mathematician is among the winners of this year’s Fields Medal, also known as nobel for mathematics.


Akshay Venkatesh, a renowned Indian-born Australian mathematician, is among the winners of mathematics’ prestigious Fields medal, also known as the Nobel prize for math. He received the medal for the “synthesis of analytic number theory, homogeneous dynamics, topology and representation theory, which has resolved long-standing problems in areas such as the equidistribution of arithmetic objects,” according to the International Mathematical Union’s website.

The Fields medals are awarded every four years to the most promising mathematicians under the age of 40. The prize was inaugurated in 1932 at the request of Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields, who ran the 1924 Mathematics Congress in Toronto. Each winner receives a 15,000 Canadian-dollar cash prize.

The other three winners are Caucher Birkar, a Cambridge University professor of Iranian Kurdish origin; Germany’s Peter Scholze, who teaches at the University of Bonn and Alessio Figalli, an Italian mathematician at ETH Zurich. Caucher Birkar’s medal was reported stolen just minutes later.

Venkatesh was born in New Delhi and relocated to Perth with his parents when he was two. A child prodigy, he is the only Australian to have won medals at the International Physics Olympiad and International Mathematics Olympiad, at the age of 12.

He finished high school when he was 13 and went to the University of Western Australia graduating with first class honours at the age of 16.

He earned his PhD at the age of 20. Since then, he has gone from holding a post doctotal position at MIT to becoming a Clay Research Fellow and is currently a professor at Stanford University.

Venkatesh has worked at the highest level in number theory, arithmetic geometry, topology, automorphic forms and ergodic theory.His research has been recognised with many awards, including the Ostrowski Prize, the Infosys Prize, the Salem Prize and Sastra Ramanujan Prize.