23/09/2010 00:00 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Professor Ngo Bao Chau – A World-Ranked Mathematician

On August 19, 2010 Professor Ngo Bao Chau became the first Vietnamese ever to win the Fields Medal, the worlds most prestigious award in the field of mathematics. Vietnam is the second nation in Asia, after Japan, to have a mathematician granted with this honour.

On August 19, 2010 Professor Ngo Bao Chau became the first Vietnamese ever to win the Fields Medal, the world's most prestigious award in the field of mathematics. Vietnam is the second nation in Asia, after Japan, to have a mathematician granted with this honour.

At 12.55 pm on August 19, 2010, during the 26th International Congress of Mathematicians 2010 (ICM 2010) held in the city of Hyderabad (India), Professor Ngo Bao Chau was granted with the Fields Medal, the world's most prestigious award in the field of mathematics.


Indian President Pratibha Patil (left) awards Prof. Ngo Bao Chau the Fields Medal at ICM 2010.


Prof. Ngo Bao Chau is well known for his work on the proof of the fundamental
lemma which is selected as one of the top10 scientific discoveries of 2009
by the US Time Magazine.


Indian President Pratibha Patil (5th from right), Prof. Ngo Bao Chau (4th from left)
and other winners of the Fields Medal at ICM 2010.


Prof. Ngo Bao Chau (front, 1st from right) at the ceremony of receiving
the precious Clay Research Award in 2004.


Chau and his mother, Associate Professor Tran Luu Van Hien, in Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Ngo Bao Chau (2nd from left) and his team mates participated in the 30th International Mathematics Olympiad held in Germany in 1989.

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Prof. Chau's work with a 30-year-old mathematical conundrum, known as the fundamental lemma theory, was groundbreaking achievement in the mathematics community and earned him the award.

At the award presentation ceremony, an ICM representative in his speech said: “Prof. Ngo (Ngo Bao Chau) has put forth the proof of the fundamental lemma, an important section in the vision of mathematics that Robert Langlands, who worked at Princeton Institute for Advanced Study (New Jersey, USA), has set forth in the 1960s. Langlands programme connects all fields of modern mathematics. As defined by its name, the fundamental lemma is only a technical issue, but it had mystified many mathematicians over the past decades. Prof. Chau's breakthrough work has helped scientists in their effort in solving the entire Langlands programme.”

Shortly after hearing news that Professor Ngo Bao Chau was granted with the Fields Medal, President Nguyen Minh Triet and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung sent him congratulatory letters. In his letter, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung wrote: "On behalf of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, I cordially send you and your family my warmest congratulations on your receiving the Fields Medal, the world's most prestigious award in mathematics. This makes Vietnam the second nation in Asia that has a mathematician granted with this honourable award. This is a great honour for you and your family, a pride of Vietnamese education and the Vietnamese nation, and an encouragement to young Vietnamese scientists..."

Ngo Bao Chau was born on November 15, 1972 in Hanoi, into a family with a tradition in science. In 1988, as a high school student specializing in mathematics at the University of Natural Sciences, Hanoi National University, Chau won a Gold Medal at the International Mathematics Olympiad held in Australia with the maximum 42/42 scores. In 1989, he won another Gold Medal at the International Mathematics Olympiad held in Germany, becoming the first Vietnamese to win two gold medals at the International Mathematics Olympiad.

In 1989, Chau received a scholarship from the French Government to study at the Paris VI University. Two years later, he enrolled at the Paris XI University, the most famous school in France. In 1997, at the age of 25, he successfully defended a doctoral thesis, and in 2003, at 31, he finished his habilitation thesis at this University.

In 2004, Chau won the prestigious Clay Research Award from the Clay Mathematics Institute, together with his teacher, Gerard Laumon, due to his proof of the fundamental lemma to Unita group. Also in 2004, Chau was invited by the Paris VI University and Paris XI University to work as a professor.

In 2005, at 33, Ngo Bao Chau was exceptionally promoted to the title of professor in Vietnam, the youngest Vietnamese citizen to ever receive this position.

In 2009, Chau' work with the fundamental lemma theory was selected by US Time Magazine as one of the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2009.

Prof. Ngo Bao Chau is now working at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study and at the same time is a professor at the Vietnam Mathematics Institute and Vietnam Institute of Sciences and Technology. He will work at the Mathematics Faculty of the University of Chicago in the United States from September 2010.

Holding two citizenships, Vietnamese and French, and although working abroad, in recent years Prof. Ngo Bao Chau has spent time teaching and training Vietnamese mathematicians.

Prof. Chau's winning of the Fields Medal not only is a pride in himself and the Vietnamese nation, but also opens new opportunities full of prospects for the Vietnamese mathematics development in the future.

The Fields Medal, founded by the Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields, is awarded every four years to a maximum of four mathematicians below the age of 40 with outstanding research projects.

During the past 70 years (1936-2006), 48 mathematicians from 11 nations, including 4 from Asia (3 Japanese and 1 Chinese American) have received the Fields Medal.

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Story: Huu Tuan

Photos: AFP – VNA – Filenbsp; nbsp;