Akshay Venkatesh, 36, a renowned Indian-Australian mathematician, is one of four winners of mathematics’ prestigious Fields medal, known as the Nobel Prize for math. The Fields medals are awarded every four years to the most promising mathematicians under the age of 40.
Venkatesh’s journey has been full of achievements and accolades since his early childhood. He moved to Perth, Australia, with his parents when he was two. He participated in physics and math Olympiads the premier international competitions for high school students and won medals in the two subjects at ages 11 and 12, respectively. He finished high school when he was 13 and went to the University of Western Australia, graduating with first class honours in mathematics in 1997, at the age of 16. In 2002, he earned his PhD at the age of 20. Since then, he has gone from holding a post-doctoral position at MIT to becoming a Clay Research Fellow and, now 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 recognized with many awards, including the Ostrowski Prize, the Infosys Prize, the Salem Prize and Sastra Ramanujan Prize. He is currently teaching at Stanford University. The Indian-origin mathematician is known as someone with broad expertise who has contributed to many areas of math.
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.
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.