Terence Chi-Shen Tao

Terence Tao

Terence Chi-Shen Tao

Terence Tao in March 2006 at the Erdős Memorial Conference in Memphis, TN, USA
Born 17 July 1975 (age 36)
Residence Los Angeles, California
Nationality Australian
United States
Fields Mathematics
Institutions University of California, Los Angeles
Alma mater Flinders University
Princeton University
Doctoral advisor Elias M. Stein
Known for Green–Tao theorem
Tao's inequality
Kakeya conjecture
Notable awards Salem Prize (2000)
Bôcher Memorial Prize (2002)
Clay Research Award (2003)
Australian Mathematical Society Medal (2005)
Ostrowski Prize (2005)
SASTRA Ramanujan Prize (2006)
Fields Medal (2006)
MacArthur Award (2007)
Fellow of the Royal Society (2007)
Alan T. Waterman Award (2008)
King Faisal International Prize (2010)
Onsager Medal(2008)
Nemmers Prize in Mathematics (2010)
Polya Prize (2010)

Terence Chi-Shen Tao FRS (simplified Chinese: 陶哲轩; traditional Chinese: 陶哲軒) (born 17 July 1975, Adelaide, South Australia) is an Australian mathematician working primarily on harmonic analysis, partial differential equations, combinatorics, analytic number theory and representation theory. Tao is a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

His single most famous contribution to mathematics is the proof that there exists arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions of prime numbers (the Green–Tao theorem).

Personal life

Tao was a child prodigy, one of the subjects in the longitudinal research on exceptionally gifted children by education researcher Miraca Gross. His father told the press that at the age of two, during a family gathering, Tao attempted to teach a 5-year-old child mathematics and English. According to Smithsonian Online Magazine, Tao could carry out basic arithmetic by the age of two. When asked by his father how he knew numbers and letters, he said he learned them from Sesame Street. Aside from English, Tao speaks Cantonese, but does not write Chinese.

Tao exhibited extraordinary mathematical abilities from an early age, attending university level mathematics courses at the age of nine. He is one of only two children (besides Lenhard Ng) in the history of the Johns Hopkins' Study of Exceptional Talent program to have achieved a score of 700 or greater on the SAT math section while just 8 years old (he scored a 760). In 1986, 1987, and 1988, Tao was the youngest participant to date in the International Mathematical Olympiad, first competing at the age of ten, winning a bronze, silver, and gold medal respectively. He remains the youngest winner of each of the three medals in the olympiad's history winning the gold medal when he barely turned thirteen. At age 14, Tao attended the Research Science Institute. When he was 15 he published his first assistant paper. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees (at the age of 16) from Flinders University under Garth Gaudry. In 1992 he won a Fulbright Scholarship to undertake postgraduate study in the United States. From 1992 to 1996, Tao was a graduate student at Princeton University under the direction of Elias Stein, receiving his Ph.D. at the age of 20. He joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles in 1996.

When he was 24, he was promoted to full professor at UCLA and remains the youngest person ever appointed to that rank by the institution. Tao's father was born and grew up in Shanghai, and Tao's mother is Cantonese by ethnicity. His parents are first generation immigrants from Hong Kong to Australia. His father, Billy Tao (Chinese: 陶象國; pinyin: Táo Xiàngguó; Cantonese Yale: tòuh jeuhng gwok) is a pediatrician, and his mother is a physics and mathematics graduate from the University of Hong Kong, formerly a secondary school teacher of mathematics in Hong Kong.

Tao has two brothers living in Australia, both of whom represented Australia at the International Mathematical Olympiad.

Research and awards

Tao has won numerous honors and awards. The ones listed below are all very notable and awarded on a large scale.

He received the Salem Prize in 2000, the Bôcher Prize in 2002, and the Clay Research Award in 2003, for his contributions to analysis including work on the Kakeya conjecture and . In 2005 he received the American Mathematical Society's Levi L. Conant Prize with Allen Knutson, and in 2006 he was awarded the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize.

In 2004, Ben Green and Tao released a preprint proving what is now known as the Green–Tao theorem. This theorem states that there are arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions of prime numbers. The New York Times described it this way:

In 2004, Dr. Tao, along with Ben Green, a mathematician now at the University of Cambridge in England, solved a problem related to the Twin Prime Conjecture by looking at prime number progressions—series of numbers equally spaced. (For example, 3, 7 and 11 constitute a progression of prime numbers with a spacing of 4; the next number in the sequence, 15, is not prime.) Dr. Tao and Dr. Green proved that it is always possible to find, somewhere in the infinity of integers, a progression of prime numbers of equal spacing and any length.

For this and other work Tao was awarded the Australian Mathematical Society Medal of 2004.

In August 2006, at the 25th International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid, he became one of the youngest, the first Australian, and the first UCLA faculty member ever to be awarded a Fields Medal. . An article by New Scientist writes of his ability:

Such is Tao's reputation that mathematicians now compete to interest him in their problems, and he is becoming a kind of Mr Fix-it for frustrated researchers. "If you're stuck on a problem, then one way out is to interest Terence Tao," says Charles Fefferman [professor of mathematics at Princeton University].

Tao was a finalist to become Australian of the Year in 2007. He is a corresponding member of the Australian Academy of Science, and in 2007 was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. In the same year Tao also published Tao's inequality, an extension to the Szemerédi regularity lemma in the field of information theory.

In April 2008, Tao received the Alan T. Waterman Award, which recognizes an early career scientist for outstanding contributions in their field. In addition to a medal, Waterman awardees also receive a $500,000 grant for advanced research.

In December 2008, he was named The Lars Onsager lecturer of 2008, for "his combination of mathematical depth, width and volume in a manner unprecedented in contemporary mathematics". He was presented the Onsager Medal, and held his entitled "Structure and randomness in the prime numbers" at NTNU, Norway.

Tao was also elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.

In 2010, he received the King Faisal International Prize jointly with Enrico Bombieri. Also in 2010, he was awarded the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics along with the Polya Prize(SIAM). Tao and Van H. Vu solved the circular law conjecture.

As of 2011 Tao has published over 230 research papers.


See also


External links

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