One of the world's most gifted mathematicians and a graduate of The University of Western Australia will return to UWA to give a free public lecture and a masterclass.
Professor Akshay Venkatesh, now at Stanford University, began undergraduate studies at UWA at the age of 14 where he was awarded first-class honours in pure mathematics. While still at high school, he won medals at both the International Physics Olympiad and the International Mathematics Olympiad and is thought to be the only Australian to have done so.
Professor Venkatesh is the 2011 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Professor-at-Large. His lecture - on Tuesday 9 August - is entitled How to stack oranges in three dimensions, 24 dimensions and beyond. His masterclass on experimental mathematics is on Friday 19 August.
In the lecture, he will tell the interesting story of the problem of how best to squeeze as many balls as possible into a limited space, going back to the astronomer Kepler (1571 - 1630) and ending almost 400 years later with the American mathematician Thomas Hales.
The goal of Professor Venkatesh's masterclass is to discuss the increasing role that computer experiment and computer-assisted proof plays in pure mathematics. He will present examples from the past 50 years.
Professor Venkatesh received his PhD from Princeton University in his 21st year and is currently Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University. His research is in pure mathematics, specifically in number theory and related areas.
In 2008, he won the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize which is awarded for outstanding contributions to areas of mathematics influenced by the genius Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920). (Ramanujan was born into an impoverished Madras family and showed great aptitude for maths, being compared to Newton and Archimedes).