ⓘ Ngô Bảo Châu


ⓘ Ngo Bảo Chau

Ngo Bảo Chau is a Vietnamese-French mathematician at the University of Chicago, best known for proving the fundamental lemma for automorphic forms proposed by Robert Langlands and Diana Shelstad. He is the first Vietnamese national to have received the Fields Medal.


1. Early life

Ngo Bảo Chau was born in 1972, the only son of an intellectual family in Hanoi, North Vietnam. His father, professor Ngo Huy Cẩn, is full professor of physics at the Vietnam National Institute of Mechanics. His mother, Trần Lưu Van Hiền, is a physician and associate professor at an herbal medicine hospital in Hanoi.

The beginning of Chaus schooling was at an experimental elementary school that had been founded by the revolutionary pedagogue Hồ Ngoc Dai, but when his father returned from the Soviet Union with his doctoral degree, he decided that Chau would learn more in traditional schools and enrolled him in the "chuyên toan" special classes for gifted students in mathematics at the Trưng Vương Middle School. At age 15, Chau entered the special mathematics class at the High School for Gifted Students, Hanoi University of Science Khối chuyên Tổng Hop – Dai hoc Khoa Hoc Tu Nhiên Hà Noi, formerly known as the A0-class. In grades 11 and 12, Chau participated in the 29th and 30th International Mathematical Olympiads IMO and became the first Vietnamese student to win two IMO gold medals, of which the first one was won with a perfect score 42/42.

After high school, Chau expected to study in Budapest, but in the aftermath of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, the new Hungarian government halted scholarships to students from Vietnam. After visiting Chaus father, Paul Germain, secretary of the French Academy of Sciences, arranged for Chau to study in France. He was offered a scholarship by the French government for undergraduate study at the Paris VI University, then in 1992, he entered the Ecole Normale Superieure. He obtained a PhD in 1997 from the Universite Paris-Sud under the supervision of Gerard Laumon. He became a member of CNRS at Paris 13 University from 1998 to 2005, and defended his habilitation degree there in 2003. He holds both Vietnamese and French citizenship.


2. Career

Chau became a professor at Paris-Sud 11 University in 2005. In 2005, at age 33, Chau received the title of professor in Vietnam, becoming the countrys youngest-ever professor. Since 2007, Chau has worked at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, as well as the Hanoi Institute of Mathematics. He joined the mathematics faculty at the University of Chicago on September 1, 2010. In addition, since 2011 he has been Scientific Director of the newly founded Vietnam Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics VIASM. In 2016 Chau was Co-General Chair of Asiacrypt the first time that the Asian cryptography conference was held in Vietnam.


3. Work

Chau first came to prominence by proving, in joint work with Gerard Laumon, the fundamental lemma for unitary groups. Their general strategy was to understand the local orbital integrals appearing in the fundamental lemma in terms of affine Springer fibers arising in the Hitchin fibration. This allowed them to employ the tools of geometric representation theory, namely the theory of perverse sheaves, to study what was initially a combinatorial problem of a number-theoretic nature. Chau eventually succeeded in formulating the proof for the fundamental lemma for Lie algebras in 2008. Together with results from Jean-Loup Waldspurger, who had earlier deduced stronger forms of the fundamental lemma from this result, this completed the proof of the fundamental lemma in all cases. As a result, Chau was awarded a Fields Medal in 2010.

Ngo Bao Chau was the co-author of the Vietnamese children book "Ai and Ky in the land of the invisible numbers".


4. Honors

In 2004, Chau and Laumon were awarded the Clay Research Award for their achievement in solving the fundamental lemma proposed by Robert Langlands for the case of unitary groups. Chaus proof of the general case was selected by Time as one of the Top Ten Scientific Discoveries of 2009. In 2010, he received the Fields Medal and in 2011, he received the Legion of Honour. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.