Manjul Bhargava is a highly respected in the mathematical community for his path-breaking research in Number Theory. His thesis generalized the classical Gauss composition law for quadratic forms to many general situations. The 15-theorem asserts that any quadratic form represents all positive integers if it represents the first fifteen positive integers. In other words, to prove that every number can be written as the sum of four integer squares, it suffices to verify this for the first fifteen numbers. Manjul, it seems, gave a very elegant proof of this theorem.

Bhargava has done his graduation from Harvard University and has completed his PhD from Princeton under the guidance of the famous Sir Andrew Wiles. I have seen Manjul’s Princeton generals umpteen times on its site here. He was the youngest full-time professor at Princeton. Mathematicians say, he is a possible candidate for the next Fields medal.

(Edit, 12 Aug 2014: He got the Fields Medal!!)

Yesterday, I met him personally, the honour was mine! I had attended his seminar at IITB on quadratic forms (he is a distinguished guest professor at IITB!). At TIFR also, we (VSRP students) approached him to conduct a seminar for us and he obliged. Though quadratic forms was his PhD thesis and a great advance in number theory, we could quite follow his talk. My VSRP guide says that he makes Mathematics seem easy. True.

When I went to meet him, he was absolutely polite and soft spoken. He talked not only mathematics, but also in general, about many other things. He told, he was born in Canada (he had quite an English accent) but was proud of Indian culture. He felt bad that people at TIFR are embarrassed to talk to each other in Hindi. He himself was talking in Hindi to me all the time! He gave me some invaluable tips about my Phd.

Apart from Mathematics, Manjul is a tabla player and has learnt from the maestro Zakir Husain himself. He is also a master of Sanskrit language. (wikipedia)

It was an unforgettable experience for me!