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Vietnamese Man Wins Prestigious Maurice Audin Prize

Professor Ngo Bao Chau is the first Vietnamese person to win what is dubbed the "Nobel prize of mathematics."

The 46-year-old professor at the University of Chicago was given the honor last week in Paris. The award is presented by the French National Center for Scientific Research which aims to promote mathematics and showcase the diversity of the sciences.

Ngo is best known for proving the fundamental lemma for automorphic forms. The complicated theory connects group theory and number theory. Ngo first solved it in 2009 much to the pleasure of mathematicians who had been operating under the assumption it was true without actual proof. At the time Peter Sarnak, a respected number theorist said: "It's as if people were working on the far side of the river waiting for someone to throw this bridge across."

One news outlet work claimed: "The proof of the fundamental lemma, which resisted all attempts for nearly three decades, firmly establishes many theorems that had assumed it and paves the way for progress in understanding underlying mathematical structures and possible connections to physics."

The award is named after a French mathematician and was first established in 1958, but was not given between 1964 and 2004. It is open to scholars working in France or Algeria that are at forty-five years old. Before moving to Chicago, Ngo worked at the Université Paris-Sud. 

Ngo was born in Hanoi to parents with scientific backgrounds and has garnered many accolades in his young career including having his work honored by Time magazine's 10 most scientific discoveries of 2009 and winning his field's top honor, the Fields Medal as well as a Clay Research Award. As a high school student in Vietnam he won two gold medals at the International Mathematics Olympiad and after continuing his studies in France became the youngest person in Vietnam to achieve the position of professor at age 33. 

[Photo via Zing]


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