VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese Professor Ngo Bao Chau’s name was announced at the 2010 International Congress of Mathematics (ICM) as one of four mathematicians to win the Fields Medal. The award is not a surprise to mathematicians.
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Professor Ngo Bao Chau (right) receives the Fields Medal from Indian President Pratibha Patil
At 12.55 pm on August 19, Hanoi time, Vietnamese Professor Ngo Bao Chau officially received the Fields Medal from Indian President Pratibha Patil, the most prestigious award in mathematics. It is often considered the equivalent of winning the Nobel Prize, which does not award a prize in mathematics.
Professor Chau is the first Vietnamese mathematician and the second person in Asia to receive the award.
The Fields Medal has been given to Chau to recognize his accomplishments in mathematics. Chau’s success in solving “fundamental lemma” is profoundly significant and has been listed by Time Magazine as one of the top ten scientific discoveries in 2009.
The Fields Medal is an award that is given at every ICM to no more than four mathematicians under the age of 40. Since the ICM is organized every four years, the Fields Medal is only awarded once every four years. Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields is the award founder.
The three mathematicians who received the Fields Medal with Chau are Elon Lindenstrauss (Israel), Stanislav Smirnov (Russia), and Cedric Villani (France).
The opening ceremony of ICM took place this morning in Hyderabad in India. Members of Chau’s family also participated the ceremony: his mother, Associate Professor Tran Luu Van Hien looked cheerful ina Vietnamese ao dai (traditional long dress), while his father, Professor Ngo Huy Can, looked dignified in a dark suit.
The scientific path of Ngo Bao Chau
Ngo Bao Chau was born in 1972 in Hanoi. He is the only son of Professor Ngo Huy Can and Associate Professor Tran Luu Van Hien. Chau went to the Giang Vo Experimental School before he majored in mathematics at The Hanoi University of Natural Sciences, now a part of Hanoi National University.
In the summer of 1988, Chau attended the International Mathematics Olympiad in Australia, where he won the gold medal. The next year, he again won the gold medal at the International Mathematics Olympiad in Germany.
In 1989, Chau went to France to study at Paris VI University. He successfully defended his doctorate thesis at the age of 25. In 2003, at the age of 31, he finished his habilitation thesis at Paris XI University and then became a professor at the university the following year.
In 1994, he married his long-term girlfriend, whom he had known since general school. Also in that year, Chau and Professor Gerard Laumon, his teacher, both received the annual research award from the Clay Mathematics Institute, which is given to only one or two people a year. Chau was the first Vietnamese person to win the award.
After winning the Clay award, the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study invited Chau to become a researcher. The institute is known for gathering many of the leading mathematicians and physicists in the world, including those who have won Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals.
In 2005, at the age of 33, Chau was given the title of Professor in Vietnam, becoming the youngest professor in the country. One year later, he was invited to present the subcommittee report at the ICM in Madrid (Spain). He was the third Vietnamese person to receive the honor. The other two Vietnamese people to receive the honor include Professor F. Pham and Professor Duong Hong Phong.
After solving the ‘fundamental lemma’, he was given the Oberwolfach prize and a prize from the French Academy in 2007. In June, his work, entitled “Le lemme fondamental pour les algèbres de Lie” was officially published in Publications Mathématiques de L'IHÉS magazine.
Though Chau works for leading scientific centers, he still spends time teaching in Vietnam.
Chau will begin working at the Mathematics Faculty of the University of Chicago in the US from September 1, 2010.
Most recently, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan officially invited Ngo Bao Chau to return to Vietnam to work and contribute to developing Vietnam into a powerhouse in mathematics.
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