Abel Prize is the highest prize in Mathematics, equivalent to Nobel Prize in Science Subjects, awarded by Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters since 2003. It is granted annually for research in mathematics, in commemoration of the brilliant 19th-century Norwegian Mathematician Niels Henrik Abel (1802-1829). The idea of Abel Prize was conceived in 1899, just three years after Alfred Nobel passed away in 1896 bequeathing his property to institute Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or medicine, Literature and Peace However, the Niels Henrik Abel Memorial Fund came into being only in 2002, it is administered by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and first Abel Prize was awarded in 2003. India born and ISI Calcutta Ph.D Prof. S R Srinivasa Vardhan of Courant Institute of Mathematics, USA was awarded this coveted prize in 2007.
Hillel Furstenberg and Gregory Margulis were honoured with the prestigious Abel prize for the year 2020. Their work highlights the idea of applying principles of dynamics and ergodic theory in the study of problems from diverse branches of mathematics such as Number theory and Combinatorics.
The Society for Promotion of Science & Technology in India (SPSTI), Chandigarh Chapter of National Academy of Sciences India (NASI), IISER, Mohali with support from Haryana Council for Science, Innovation & Technology conducted an online awareness lecture on the Abel Prizes and the contributions of Abel Laureates (2020) on Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 11:00 AM. The lecture was attended by several eminent Mathematicians (including Prof. R P Bambah) along with students, teachers and members of the general public. This expository was also a part of the Centenary Lecture Series of Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Chandigarh. The speaker was distinguished mathematician of TIFR Prof. S. G. Dani, currently associated with University of Mumbai & DAE Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences (CEBS) at Vidyanagari campus of MU. The renowned Mathematician Prof/ Dani has worked in the broad area of ergodic theory and dynamics to solve various mathematical problems. He has also collaborated with Abel Laureate Prof. G Margulis, e.g, Margulis- Dani theorem.
The programme started with 2 minutes silence to pay homage to Rashtrapita Mahatma Gandhi. Prof. Keya Dharmvir greeted all who were present. The session began with the introduction of the programme and opening remarks by Prof. Arun K. Grover, former Vice Chancellor Panjab University and vice president of SPSTI. Prof. Krishnendu Gangopadhyay, IISER Mohali introduced the speaker and his achievements.
The speaker Prof S.G. Dani introduced the History of Abel’s Prize and the details of the work of the two recipients namely mathematicians Hillel Furstenberg and Gregory Margulis who jointly won the 2020 Abel prize for their pioneering use of methods from probability and dynamics in other mathematical fields such as group theory, number theory and combinatorics. He told about his own work in History of Mathematics, Dynamics, Number Theory, theory and applications of dynamical systems on homogeneous spaces and the work he has done in Margulis. He talked about Diphantine problems, earliest solution to which goes back to Aryabhatta’s Kuttaka and at present the methods of solution are linked with continued fraction expression. He further elaborated on Oppenheim conjuncture and his work with Margulis for further improvement in this. He also talked about dynamic approach and how Margulis observed certain ‘interesting dynamic facts’ about how points get filled up under repasted application, which enabled him to prove Oppenheim conjecture. He also talked about Szemeredi’s theorem and Furstenberg’s dynamic approach to prove Szemeredi’s theorem and the future perspectives in context to its application.
The session was followed with questions about use of such information by many students and Mathematics lovers. The session was much appreciated by attendees.
The concluding remarks were made by Prof. Dheeraj Sanghi, Director, Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. Shri Dharam Vir, IAS (Retd.) & President SPSTI, emphasised importance of mathematics in other field of science and shared his concern for youngsters being not trained in frontiers of mathematics owing to less opportunities. He presented a vote of thanks to the speaker, audience, organisers and Haryana Council for Science, Innovation & Technology.