'Institute medal in Ramanujan name'

Proposal discussed at general assembly in Bangalore on August 16-17

'Institute medal in Ramanujan name'

S Ramanujan

But that may change in the future if the International Mathematical Union (IMU) agrees to an Indian proposal of adding math wizard Srinivas Ramanujan’s name to the Medal. The government will pump in more prize money in the Field’s Medal provided it is renamed as Fields-Ramanujan Medal.

Currently, each Fields medalists receive 15,000 Canadian dollar in reward. In comparison, every Nobel winner receives $1.4 million.

“Its not that mathematicians don’t like money,” said M S Raghunathan at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. “People feel it (prize money) should be raised to a million dollar,” said US mathematician Ingrid Daubechies from Princeton University, who is attending the International Congress of Mathematicians here.

A few months before the congress, the Indian mathematical community with support from the government, proposed to the IMU to tag Ramanujam’s name to the Field’s medal. In return, India would provide a generous grant, which will substantially raise the prize money for Field medalists, said Raghunathan.

The IMU has not agreed to the Indian idea so far. But it was discussed at the general assembly in Bangalore on August 16-17. The IMU is aware of the financial problem and is trying to find out ways to address it, IMU president Laszlo Lovasz told Deccan Herald.
Similar proposal

The apparent reservation and shakiness comes from the fact that a few years back, IMU received a similar proposal from a Canadian bank with the condition that the bank’s name be tagged along Fields on the Medal.

The global mathematical body sought the opinion of every Fields medalists and received a unanimous and emphatic no as the answer. Everybody agreed that attaching a commercial entity’s name to the Fields Medal will denigrate its standard. The matter rested there.

“But Ramanujan would be a different matter. We will discuss it in the executive committee and have four years to take a decision,” said Daubechies, first woman elected as the IMU president in the Bangalore meeting. She would be the president of the next congress in Korea in 2014.

Daubechies said tagging Ramanujan’s name to the medal would no way belittle the prestige associated with the medal, awarded since 1936, after Canadian mathematician J C Fields.

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