Manjul Bhargava set a record by becoming first person of Indian origin to win the Fields Medal, popularly known as the Nobel Prize of Mathematics. The award is given out every four years by theInternational Mathematical Union (IMU) to mathematicians who are not over 40 for their existing work as well as ‘promise of future achievement’.
Bhargava is best known for this work on number theory, especially the Gauss composition law. The first sign of his genius came when he won the prestigious Morgan Prize in 1996 for the work he did even at the bachelor’s degree stage. He is the Brandon Fradd Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University in New Jersey, the youngest ever person to be offered a full tenure barely two years after graduate school. Bhargava was born in Canada but raised in Long Island, NY, where his mother was a professor of mathematics at Hofstra University. His mother Mira said Bhargava hated school as a kid and would miss classes to go sit in his mother’s office or classes! He is also an accomplished Tabla player, and has trained under such experts as Ustad Zakir Hussain. His inspiration for the classic work on Gauss composition law came from playing around with a Rubik’s cube!
He is famous for his popular class for first-year students, “The Mathematics of Magic Tricks and Games,” in which students explore the mathematical principles behind games and magic tricks. In 2013, Bhargava was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest disciplinary academic bodies in the country that houses subject matter experts who advise the government on issues related to science and technology.