IIT-Kanpur professor bags first Infosys Mathematics Prize

September 15th, 2008 - 8:44 pm ICT by IANS  

ISROBangalore, Sep 15 (IANS) Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur professor Manindra Agrawal has been chosen for the first Infosys Mathematics Prize, set up by the IT bellwether in association with the state-run National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS).The 41-year-old Agrawal is an N. Rama Rao chair professor in the department of computer science and engineering at IIT-K.

The award consists of Rs.1 million cash prize and a medal for his research in complexity theory. The prize will be presented to Agarwal at a special function soon.

Announcing the prize here Monday, Infosys chairman and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy said Agrawal was selected for the award by a jury of eminent academicians from the world over.

“The prize has been jointly instituted by Infosys and NIAS to encourage and foster an interest in mathematics. It will be awarded to a nominated candidate below 45 years every year for outstanding contributions - fundamental or applied - in any field of mathematics,” Murthy told reporters.

Complexity Theory is a branch of mathematics concerned with the study of algorithms for solving mathematical and related scientific problems, especially their efficiency and running times.

Agrawal is best known for the discovery of a deterministic polynomial time algorithm, for primality testing in his joint paper with two of his former students. The discovery resolved a long-standing problem of a fast test of primality, which had been the subject of intense study in mathematics and computer science research.

“The corpus amount for the annual cash prize has been donated by Infosys board member T.V. Mohandas Pai from his personal funds. But he wanted the award to be named after Infosys,” Murthy said.

NIAS director and Rajya Sabha member K. Kasturirangan said the award would reiterate the importance of mathematics across different sciences and encourage students to cultivate an interest in the subject.

“India has established programmes in strategic areas such as atomic energy, defence, space, IT and meteorology. A strong base in mathematics is fundamental to advancement in all of these,” Kasturirangan noted.

The prize is an important step in nurturing and encouraging academic research in areas critical to India’s development as a scientific and economic power, Kasturirangan, who was former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), added.

S.R. Srinivasa Varadhan, professor at Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and department of mathematics, New York University, who was awarded the Abel Prize in 2007, headed the six-member jury.

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