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  Madhu Sudan wins the Nevanlinna Prize

Chennai born, MIT professor Dr.Madu Sudan, 35 has been awarded the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize for 2002. Named after the Finnish mathematician [- who was president of the International Mathematical Union from 1959 to 1962], the prize has been awarded since 1982 to a significant young mathematician below the age of 40. It is widely deemed the junior Nobel Prize.

The areas of his work may mystify the best of us but let us try the approach of seeing where his work might be applied. The first is the world of cryptography and computer security. The second is in information transmission where Sudan’s work has practical rewards.  And, the third is the world of ‘approximation algorithms’ where his work may help tell researchers early to pull back from a dead end road. If you want more a technical version, here is a start: “probabilistically checkable proofs, non-approximability of optimisation problems and error correcting codes.”

A statement from the American Mathematical Society says: “Dr Madu Sudan has made important contributions to several areas of theoretical computer science. His work is characterised by brilliant insights and wide ranging interests.”

There are many developments afoot that Indians are either unaware or don’t understand. News of Dr Sudan’s honour is one that this populous nation has barely a second to look at, as it lurches on.