Monday, June 01, 2009

Mathematics and New York University

Srinivasa S.R.Varadan is a Chennai-born probability theorist associated with the New York University from 1963. He was awarded the Abel Prize (Nobel Prize equivalent in Mathematics) in the year 2007. Earlier, Peter D.Lax of NYU was awarded the same prize in 2005. Quite improbably, the 2009 prize also goes to a NYU Professor, Dr.Gromov.

Dr.Varadan is known for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular for creating a unified theory of Large Deviations. This has applications in a wide array of subjects including physics, biology, economics, computer science and statistics. Large Deviations deals with the probability of rare events.

Dr.Lax (incidentally a mathematician like him is far from lax !) says,"Our fields are rather separate, but whenever I have a question about probability, I go to Varadan." Lax is credited with groundbreaking contributions to the theory and application of partial differential equations and to the computation of their solutions. Dr.Gromov specialises in something more enigmatic. His forte is Riemannian geometry, symplectic geometry, string theory and group theory.

A combined theory of Large Deviations and Black Swans may explain the global economic crisis, in retrospect.

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