Srinivasa Varadhan wins the Abel Prize for 2007

About 30 km from Chennai sits the small township of Ponneri. In the 1940s and 50s, this town’s Board High School was headed by a Principal named Ranga Iyengar. As was the custom in those times, his official attire combined both the Western and the Indian – panchakacham, white shirt, tie, coat and an Indian turban. He paraded his school corridors with a small stick tucked in his sleeve and benevolently ensured that discipline was upheld. This story is typical of its times and therefore quite ordinary except for the fact that Ranga Iyengar was the father of Srinivasa Varadhan, who, as the post title indicates, has won the Abel Prize for 2007.

As this article puts it

Indian-born New York University professor Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan won Norway’s 6 million kroner (US$975,000, €736,000) Abel Prize for mathematics for “his fundamental contributions to probability theory.”

Varadhan, 67, teaches at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and the award said his theories are useful in a broad range of fields, including quantum field theory, statistical physics, population dynamics, econometrics and finance, and traffic engineering.

“Varadhan’s work has great conceptual strength and ageless beauty. His ideas have been hugely influential and will continue to stimulate further research for a long time,” said the citation from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

The Abel Prize, first awarded in 2003, was created by the Norwegian government and named after 19th Century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.

After schooling in Ponneri, Srinivasa Varadhan studied Mathematics and Statistics at Presidency College, Madras and then moved on to the United States for further studies. While Chennai’s contribution to his success is debatable, it is still a moment of pride that someone whose past is coloured with the smell of Rathna Cafe sambhar, suburban trains to Tambaram, and Mani master’s Tamil classes, has such a wonderful reason to celebrate this year.

Congratulations Mr.Varadhan!

7 Comments so far

  1. Navneeth (unregistered) on March 24th, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

    Yes, congrats Dr.Varadhan! I came across this a couple of days ago. Wonderful news indeed.

  2. Arrypotter (unregistered) on March 25th, 2007 @ 5:54 pm

    Good to see that Blogs are alive in India. Blogs are doing something what media in India has been lacking in. Bring real success stories like this out. Kudos! Mate! keep it rolling.

  3. Partha (unregistered) on March 25th, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

    As an aside, one of his sons lost his life in the 9/11 terror attack on WTC.

  4. sheela (unregistered) on March 29th, 2007 @ 2:39 am

    I am really very happy to see this blog . I am in toronto now but I was a student of Ponneri high school .
    Congrats Mr Varadhan

  5. desigan (unregistered) on March 30th, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

    Congrats to Dr. Varadhan on his Abel Award. He is one of very few indviduals whom I had come across in my life and I adore him for his simplicity, nobility and keeping-in-touch policy.
    Yes; during his most of his visits Chennai he had made it a point to pay a visit to meet my father who is 85 years old and who was also a student at Ponneri High School, of late S.V.Ranga Iyengar, the proud father of this genius son.


  6. Siva Athreya (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 10:17 am

    Nice Posting. Congrats to Professor Varadhan.
    One small omission in your posting is: in the last

    Varadhan got his Ph.D. at the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata. Then moved to the US.

  7. desigank (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

    The bloggers would like to go through the article in The HIndu of today i.e. 12.04.07 penned by one of Dr. Srinivasa Varadhan’s clas-mate in ISI, Calcutta and now the Professor of Maths in Cailifornia University giving more info about Dr.Varadhan’s achievements in more detail.


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