The Probability of this Uncle Being Awesome is High.

Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan.jpg An NYU Professor of graduate and undergraduate courses in statistics, probability and analysis at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Studies has won the Abel Prize for 2007. It’s kinda like the Nobel, but for maths and he’s the first desi to win it. In other words, this is a big deal (thanks, karmakong and Sanjiv).

The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has decided to award the Abel Prize for 2007 to Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York. He receives the prize “for his fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular for creating a unified theory of large deviation”. [link]

As for the caption under the good Professor’s picture: don’t you ever see an Uncle or an Auntie and just want to hug them? Especially if they seem to be radiating wisdom and kindness? Ah, I’ve been taking what Saheli is on, so pardon us as we skip through flower-laden fields, seeing the absolute best in people. He just seems like the kind of Uncle I’d love to have (as opposed to most of my Uncles, whom I have to love). Well, that and my devotion to people who are fantastic at math is probably responsible for some of this effusiveness. :D

Back on topic:

Probability theory is the mathematical tool for analyzing situations governed by chance. The theory of large deviations studies the occurrence of rare events. This subject has concrete applications to fields as diverse as physics, biology, economics, statistics, computer science, and engineering. [link]

Unfortunately, there is a typo in the above definition, “my love life” should immediately follow “computer science”.

Varadhan’s theory of large deviations provides a unifying and efficient method for clarifying a rich variety of phenomena arising in complex stochastic systems, in fields as diverse as quantum field theory, statistical physics, population dynamics, econometrics and finance, and traffic engineering. It has also greatly expanded our ability to use computers to simulate and analyze the occurrence of rare events. Over the last four decades, the theory of large deviations has become a cornerstone of modern probability, both pure and applied.[link]

For more information on this dazzling desi, peep his biography here. Next up at SM: why Anna is the only South Indian person ever to have never taken calculus. Cause for shame or America is to blame? You decide.

53 thoughts on “The Probability of this Uncle Being Awesome is High.

  1. A couple of years ago, I would have said that it’s amazing that a professor’s son is a trader in GS. But not now. It seems natural, esp. considering Varadhan’s area of work.

  2. Anna, I too am a mallu w/o any calculus background – I never realized what a big thing that was when I chose to opt out of the calculus program in high school – I just knew I would never have a use for calculus. As an anthro/history major I didn’t have to take calculus at UNC-CH. For my parents they realized early on I wasn’t any math – science genius and had no intention of going to medicine – therefore they felt sure that I would marry a medicine man and would not have to understand his math – science background as long as I could cook him great dosas.