IIT Kanpur Don bags first Infosys Prize for Mathematics

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Bangalore, Sep 15 (UNI) Dr Mahindra Agarwal, an IIT Kanpur professor, has bagged the first Infosys Prize for Mathematics instituted jointly by the IT major and National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS).

The prize has been instituted to encourage and foster an interest in mathematics and give a fillip to education and research of basic sciences. It carries a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh and a medal.

The prize is awarded to a nominated candidate who has made outstanding contributions - fundamental or applied - in any field of mathematics including the areas of pure mathematics, mathematical foundations of computer science and applied mathematics in natural, life and social sciences.

Dr Agarwal was honoured for his research in Complexity Theory. He would be honoured with the prize at a function to be organised later.

Speaking after the announcement Infosys Chairman N R Narayana Murthy said Infosys believed in strong industry-academia partnership for advancement of academic research.

"This prize recognises contributions of extraordinary depth and influence to mathematical sciences. We hope that this award will reiterate importance of mathematics across different sciences and encourage students to cultivate an interest in the subject," he added.

Mr Murthy termed as 'absolutely coincidence' that a professor from IIT Kanpur, where he studied his Masters in Engineering, got the first year's prize.

NIAS Director and former ISRO Chief K Kasturirangan said India had established programmes in strategic areas like Atomic Energy, Defence, Space, IT and Meterology. A strong base in mathematics was fundamental for advancement of these areas.

"Significantly mathematics is increasingly finding applications in a number of new areas such as computer science, life science, social sciences and economics apart from traditional areas," he said.

Though India had produced renowned mathematicians and scientists, seen from a national perspective, the quality and quantity of work in mathematics was far from satisfactory.

"Except for some islands like Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, overall work in universities and other institutes is of poor quality. Much of the work has been derivative of work done elsewhere and the international impact of work done here has been very low," he said.

It was unfortunate that current level of research as well as teaching in mathematics in colleges and universities across the country was poor and much below expected standards, he added.


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