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Award for mathematician

Print edition : Feb 28, 2003 T+T-

R. BALASUBRAMANIAN, noted mathematician and Director of the Indian Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai, has been awarded the major civilian award of the French government, Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Merite. The award was conferred on him by Claudie Haignere, the visiting French Research Minister on February 7 in New Delhi.

The citation said that the award was being presented in recognition of Balasubramanian's "talents and merits and service to the Indo-French relations''. Balasubramanian has made several important contributions in the field of Number Theory. His thesis work, which he carried out at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, under the guidance of the well-known number theorist K. Ramachandra, dealt with the improvement of theorems on the `Riemann-Zeta Function'. Of particular importance among his other noteworthy contributions is the proving of a 300-year-old conjecture, known as the Waring Conjecture, that he found in 1986 in association with French mathematicians Jean-Marc Deshouillers and Francois Dress of Bordeaux University. The Waring Conjecture states that every integer can be written as a sum of at most 19 biquadrates (that is, the fourth power of integers). This work used certain powerful computational tools that can be applied to solve other outstanding problems in mathematics as well.

Since the mid-1980s Balasubramanian has undertaken several fruitful collaborative work with French mathematicians, including Prof. Michel Waldschmidt from the University of Pierre et Marie Curie. He also helped to initiate an agreement between Ecole Normal Superieure of Rue d'Ulm and the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) for an exchange programme of students of the two centres. Under this programme, between four to six undergraduate Indian students undergo training at the French centre. In exchange, students in their last year at Ecole Normal Superieure give a series of lectures at the CMI.

Balasubramanian has also been closely involved in the agreement signed in 1999 between the National Board of Higher Mathematics (NBHM) of the Department of Atomic Energy under M. S. Raghunathan of TIFR and Centre National du Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He has started a collaborative project with Universite de Lille under the framework of the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (IFCPAR).

Balasubramanian has been at the IMSc since 1985 and became its director in 2000. A recipient of several honours, Balasubramanian was awarded the Srinivasa Ramanujan Birth Centenary Award at the Indian Science Congress, 2001.

R. Ramachandran
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