Honouring young mathematicians – the SASTRA Ramanujan prize is a trailblazer

The SASTRA Ramanujan Prize is an annual $10, 000 prize handed out to mathematicians not exceeding the age of 32 for path-breaking contributions to areas influenced by Srinivasa Ramanujan, said Dr Krishnaswami Alladi while delivering a talk at M S Swaminathan Research Foundation on December 26, 2018. The age limit of the prize is 32, because Ramanujan achieved so much in his brief life of 32 years.

The Prize is given each year around December 22 which is Ramanujan's birthday, in Kumbakonam (Ramanujan's hometown) at an International Conference held at SASTRA University. It recognises young talent, and some of the recipients have gone on to win the Fields Medal, the equivalent of a Nobel Prize, in mathematics. “In fact two of the four Fields Medalists this year are former SASTRA Prize winners”, said Prof Krishnaswami. Since 2005, when the prize was instituted, 17 mathematicians have been honoured.

Prof Swaminathan, Founder, MSSRF thanked Prof Krishnaswami for a wonderful talk and said that he was the ‘Indian Hardy’ and the real teacher who ensured that mathematics could be understood by a lay audience. He said, “Over the last 10 years, December has become famous for two things — one is the Music Academy and the other is the talk by Prof Krishnaswami.”

Prof Swaminathan also thanked the SASTRA University for instituting such an innovative award to stimulate young minds. He mentioned how normally a scientist would be recognised only at a later stage in life, but the SASTRA prize provides encouragement to young scientists to contribute towards the field of mathematics from an earlier age.

Prof Krishnaswami said that he had previously delivered a lecture titled ‘Ramanujan's legacy: The work of the SASTRA prize winners’ in a conference at the Royal Society, London in October 2018. The event was held to celebrate 2018 as the centenary year of the election of Ramanujan as a FRS (Fellow of Royal Society). This shows the exalted status of Ramanujan in the science and math field across the world.

(In the Pic: Prof Alladi delivering the SASTRA prize lecture in Royal Society, London, in October 2018,; Pic cedits: Prof Krishnaswami Alladi)