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Kathrin Bringmann Chosen as 2009 SASTRA Ramanujan Prize Recipient

October 23, 2009

Kathrin Bringmann of the University of Cologne, Germany, and the University of Minnesota is to become the newest winner of the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize.

Established in 2005, this $10,000 prize recognizes exceptional work in fields explored by the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Born in 1887, Ramanujan was a self-taught mathematical prodigy with particular interests in number theory and modular functions. To take note of Ramanujan's untimely death at the age of 32, the award is restricted to applicants no older than 32.

Bringmann was selected for her work on modular forms and mock theta functions. Ramanujan discovered these functions shortly before his death, and they have become one of his greatest contributions. The coefficients of these functions are easy to evaluate, making them similar to theta functions, which are involved in theories concerning moduli spaces and quadratic forms.

Bringmann helped to make major strides towards answering Freeman Dyson's challenge regarding these functions. Dyson had said that the functions provide hints of a grand synthesis--and that this was a challenge for future mathematicians to undertake. After Sander Zwegers (University College Dublin) in 2003 showed how the mock theta functions of Ramanujan fit into the theory of real analytic modular forms, Bringmann helped make explicit the connections with real analytic modular forms and addressed problems concerning asymptotics and congruences. See "Puzzle Solved: Ramanujan's Mock Theta Conjectures."

The prize will be awarded Dec. 22, 2009, during the International Conference on Number Theory at SASTRA University, in Kumbakonam, India, which was Ramanujan's hometown.

Previous winners of the prize include Manjul Bhargava and Kannan Soundararajan (2005), Terence Tao (2006), Ben Green (2007), and Akshay Venkatesh (2008).

Source: SASTRA Prize 2009, Sept. 28, 2009.

Start Date: 
Friday, October 23, 2009