Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Abel Prize 2007

This year's Abel Prize has been awarded to Prof. Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York:

for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular
for creating a unified theory of large deviations.

The citation released by the prize committee reads

Probability theory is the mathematical tool for analyzing situations
governed by chance. The law of large numbers, discovered by Jacob Bernoulli in
the eighteenth century, shows that the average outcome of a long sequence of
coin tosses is usually close to the expected value. Yet the unexpected happens,
and the question is: how? The theory of large deviations studies the occurrence
of rare events. This subject has concrete applications to fields as diverse as
physics, biology, economics, statistics, computer science, and engineering.

You can also read the citation in Hindi. Read this article to know more about Dr. Varadhan.

Apart from Calculus, probability has been one of the most fascinating branches of mathematics. Countless frustrating hours have been spent in solving problems on probability from The Challenge and Thrill of Pre-College Mathematics. In hindsight, the effort has been completely useful. It has taught me the art of sitting at my desk for long hours while trying to solve a tough problem. Going further, it really made my job during engineering really easy. The confidence to tackle problems out of the comfort zone was also sown by those solving sessions.

An earlier article I wrote on the Abel Prize.

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