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Celebrating Mathematics

21 February is Ramanujan Day at ICTP

Celebrating Mathematics
Celebrating Mathematics


ICTP will dedicate a day to mathematics on Monday 21 February as it celebrates the awarding of the 2021 DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize to Indian mathematician Neena Gupta, and presents the first lecture by its new Ramanujan International Chair, Don Zagier.

The ceremony, under the title "Ramanujan Day: A Celebration of Mathematics", will be held in a hybrid format from ICTP's Budinich Lecture Hall and online via Zoom starting at 14:30 CET. Register in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

A livestream of the event also will be available on ICTP's YouTube channel.

An Award for Mathematics Excellence

Neena Gupta, a mathematician at the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, has been awarded the 2021 DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians from Developing Countries. She will deliver a Prize lecture on Ga-Actions and their Applications.

Gupta received the Prize for her outstanding work in affine algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, in particular for her solution of the Zariski cancellation problem for affine spaces. The DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize committee, composed of eminent mathematicians from around the world, commented that Gupta's work "shows impressive algebraic skill and inventiveness".

Gupta's solution for solving the Zariski cancellation problem, a fundamental problem in Algebraic Geometry, earned her the 2014 Young Scientists Award of the Indian National Science Academy, who described her solution as “one of the best works in algebraic geometry in recent years done anywhere.” The problem was posed by one of the most eminent founders of modern Algebraic Geometry, Oscar Zariski, in 1949. In an interview with an American university, Gupta describes it: “The cancellation problem asks that if you have cylinders over two geometric structures, and that have similar forms, can one conclude that the original base structures have similar forms?”

Neena Gupta earned a PhD in mathematics from the Indian Statistical Institute, where she is now an associate professor. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2017 B. M. Birla Science Prize in Mathematics, the inaugural Professor A. K. Agarwal Award by the Indian Mathematical Society in 2015, and the 2015 Ramanujan Prize by the Ramanujan Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics.

Gupta is the third woman to receive the DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize, which was first awarded in 2005 and is administered by ICTP jointly with the Department of Science and Technology (DST, Government of India), and the International Mathematical Union (IMU).

The Prize is awarded annually to a researcher from a developing country who is less than 45 years of age on 31 December of the year of the award, and who has conducted outstanding research in a developing country. Researchers working in any branch of the mathematical sciences are eligible.

A list of past winners is here.

An Ode to Ramanujan

ICTP's Ramanujan Day ceremony also will feature a talk by eminent mathematician Don Zagier, who has been appointed as the first holder of ICTP's Ramanujan International Chair. The title of his talk is "Ramanujan and the Partition Function".

Zagier is Emeritus Scientific Member and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn. During his more than 10-year affiliation with ICTP, Zagier has built strong connections with the Centre as a Distinguished Staff Associate, and has collaborated on numerous research papers with ICTP scientists, both within or outside the Mathematics section. In addition to his ICTP affiliation, Zagier is a distinguished affiliated member of the Trieste-based Institute for Geometry and Physics, run jointly by ICTP and SISSA.

A number theorist who has also done work in topology, algebraic geometry, and mathematical physics, Zagier shared his time for many years between Germany and a professorship in another country: first at the University of Maryland, then at the University of Utrecht, and then at the College de France.  Zagier won many prizes, including the Carus Medal, the Cole Prize in Number Theory, the Prix Elie Cartan, the Chauvenet Prize, and the von Staudt Prize. He became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997, a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2017, and an honorary member of the London Mathematical Society in 2019. 

In 2021 he was awarded the Fudan-Zhongzhi Science Award, sharing the with Benedict Gross, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, for their formulation and proof of the Gross-Zagier formula.