Terrence Tao (b. 1975) was born and raised in Adelaide, Australia. His parents were first generation immigrants from Hong Kong to Australia. He was educated in Australia until the age of 17, then continued his education in the United States and now holds dual Australian and American nationalities.
Tao’s genius in mathematics was expressed at an early age. He began teaching himself basic arithmetic at the age of 2, learning about numbers from Sesame Street. At the age of 7, he started to learn calculus at high school, and by the age of 9 he was attending college-level mathematics. At 11, he was already participating in international mathematics competitions, winning bronze, silver and gold medals in 1986, 1987 and 1988, respectively. At the age of 14, he attended the Research Science Institute and at the age of 17, he received his B.Sc. (honor) and master’s degrees from Flinders University in Adelaide, which awarded him the University Medal. He traveled to the U.S. on a Fulbright Scholarship where he earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University at the age of 20. He joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)’s faculty in the same year, and four years later, at age 24, he became full professor. He is currently the James and Carol Collins Chair of Mathematics at UCLA, an honorary professor at the Australian National University and a former visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales. He is the editor of the Journal of the American Mathematical Society and Analysis and PDE, associate editor of Dynamics of Partial Differential Equations and the American Journal of Mathematics, and member of the advisory boards of the International Mathematical Research Surveys and Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics. He is author or co-author of around 170 publications (including six books) with an impressive tally of citations.
Professor Tao works across a number of branches of mathematics including harmonic analysis, nonlinear partial differential equations, algebraic geometry, combinatorics, analytic number theory, and signal processing. He is known for his highly original solutions of very difficult and important mathematical problems and for his technical brilliance in the use of the necessary mathematical machinery. His most famous contribution is the Green-Tao Theorem (jointly with Ben J. Green). Professor J. Garnett, former chair of mathematics at UCLA described Tao as follows: “Terry is like Mozart; mathematics just flows out of him… He is an incredible talent and probably the best mathematician in the world right now.”
Professor Tao’s path-breaking contributions to mathematics earned him a string of awards including Salem Prize (2000), Bộcher Prize (2003), Clay Research Award (2003), the American Mathematical Society’s Levi L. Conant Prize (2005), Ostrowski Prize (2005), the Australian Mathematical Society Medal (2005) and SASTRA Ramanujan Prize (2006). In 2006, the International Congress of Mathematics in Madrid awarded him the Field Medal. He was one of 48 scientists ever to have been awarded the Fields Medal since its inception 80 years ago. He was also the first Australian and first UCLA mathematician to receive that prestigious Medal. In 2007, he received the MacArthur Award, in 2008, he received the Alan T. Waterman Award and Medal as well as the Lars Onsager Medal and in 2010 he was awarded King Faisal International Prize for Science and Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics “for mathematics of astonishing breadth, depth and originality.”
Professor Tao was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007, the same year in which he was named “Australian of the Year.” He became an associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2008 and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. He is also a Corresponding Member of Australian Academy of Sciences.
Professor Tao, has been awarded the prize for his a world-renowned mathematician working in a number of branches of mathematics including harmonic analysis, partial differential equations, combinatorics, number theory, and signal processing. He is known for his highly original solutions of very difficult and important problems and for his technical brilliance in the use of the necessary mathematical machinery.