Varadhan paid tribute to Niels Henrik Abel

- Abel, in his very short life made great contributions to Mathematics and I feel honored to be recognized by an Institution founded in his memory, said Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan in his speech at the award ceremony in Oslo.
Your Majesties, distinguished members of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, colleagues and friends I want to begin by thanking the Norwegian Government and people for establishing the Abel foundation and instituting this award. Abel, in his very short life made great contributions to Mathematics and I feel honored to be recognized by an Institution founded in his memory. It is very hard for me to express the complexity of my emotions on this day. I feel flattered by the kind words spoken here about me and my work. I am very happy indeed that I am being recognized for that work by this award. Mathematics is a large field and there are many excellent colleagues who have made fundamental contributions to their particular specialty. I consider myself fortunate that the committee this year chose to recognize probability theory and my contributions to it. Probability theory has a long history. Although games of chance have been played for thousands of years, it is only recently that the subject has developed as a branch of mathematics. Probability theory today has multiple roles. As a branch of mathematics it provides an important perspective and serves as a useful tool in other areas of pure and applied mathematics. Stochastic modeling is crucial in many branches of Natural and Social Sciences. We live in a world full of uncertainty and it has become important to model, study and control it. I am indeed very pleased that probability theory has received the attention of the committee this year. There are many individuals who have played an important role in my development as a person and as a mathematician. My father was a school teacher and served as the principal of a high school. Education always got high priority in our house and I received constant encouragement from both my parents. In high school I had a great mathematics teacher who made me feel that mathematics can be fun like other games. My teachers at Presidency College in Chennai provided me with a solid mathematical education. As a graduate student at the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkatta, I had great support from my advisor Dr C.R. Rao. My interest in mathematical research was greatly enhanced by my collaboration with colleagues at that Institute, in particular Varadarajan, Ranga Rao and Parthasarathy. When I moved to New York, in 1963, Courant Institute had a great deal of activity in many different areas. In analysis I profited from conversations with Moser, Nirenberg, Lax, John and many others. Donsker with whom I worked closely for many years was a wonderful colleague and mentor. Kac and McKean were a constant source of inspiration. I have always enjoyed working closely with others and I have learnt a lot from every one of my collaborators. I want to mention particularly Stroock, Papanicolaou and H.T.Yau who were my colleagues at different times and Kipnis, Olla and Landim who had spent long periods visiting the Institute. Over the years I have had about thirty graduate students. Working with them has been very stimulating and they have contributed to and enriched my professional life. New York University and particularly Courant Institute is a wonderful institution in the way it nurtures its young faculty and encourages them to grow to their full potential. Finally I want to thank my wife Vasu for the support she has given and the understanding she has shown over the years. I am glad she and my son Ashok are here to share my joy and my one regret is that Gopal is not here to share this moment. I wish to conclude by thanking the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, the Abel Foundation and the Abel Prize Committee for making this happen and wishing everyone a good day.

Links

Speech by Professor Jan Fridthjof Bernt, president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (pdf)

Speech by Professor Jan Fridthjof Bernt, president of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (pdf)

Speech by Professor Kristian Seip, chairman of the Abel Committee (pdf)

Speech by Professor Kristian Seip, chairman of the Abel Committee (pdf)

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The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
Drammensveien 78
N-0271 Oslo, Norway
Telephone: + 47 22 84 15 00
Fax: + 47 22 12 10 99
E-mail: abelprisen@dnva.no
Web editor: Anne-Marie Astad
Design and technical solutions: Ravn Webveveriet AS