Best-selling British physicist-turned-author Simon Singh will receive the first Leelavati Award for public outreach in math at the world’s biggest conclave on the subject in Hyderbad later this month, the meeting’s organisers announced on August 5.
Singh, who studied physics in the UK and worked at a subatomic particle accelerator lab in Geneva before turning to documentary- making and writing, will get the Rs 10 lakh ($20,000) Leelavati Award at the quadrennial International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM), 2010.
Singh, 46, born to Indian parents who emigrated to the UK in 1950 from Punjab, wrote Fermat’s Last Theorem in 1997 — a book some fellow mathematicians have described as the first popular math best-seller. Singh has also written a book on the history of codes and produced a trilogy for BBC Radio 4 on numbers.
The executive organisation committee of ICM-2010 instituted the Leelavati Award as a one-time prize but panel members said they were trying to make it a regular feature at future ICMs.
“We thought this was an appropriate time to have an exclusive prize for public outreach in math,” said M.S. Raghunathan, a professor of math at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and the committee chairman.
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