By James Devitt
August 13, 2014
Subhash Khot, a professor in NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, has been awarded the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize for 2014 for his formulation and analysis of the Unique Games Conjecture (UGC).
The Nevanlinna Prize, given every four years by the International Mathematical Union (IMU) for outstanding contributions in mathematical aspects of information sciences, is awarded to mathematicians under the age of 40.
Khot, 36, a theoretical computer scientist in Courant’s Department of Computer Science, focuses on computational complexity, which seeks to understand the power and limits of efficient computation.
In announcing the prize, IMU recognized Khot “for his prescient definition of the ‘Unique Games’ problem, and leading the effort to understand its complexity and its pivotal role in the study of efficient approximation of optimization problems.”
The organization added that “his work has led to breakthroughs in algorithmic design and approximation hardness, and to new exciting interactions between computational complexity, analysis and geometry,” noting that “the Unique Games Conjecture will be driving research in theoretical computer science for many years to come.”
UCG’s value has been felt beyond computational complexity—it has led to findings that include: the structure of foams, the geometry of different ways to measure distance, and the merits of different voting systems.
In 2010, Khot was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award, which is given annually to an outstanding young researcher in any field of science and engineering supported by NSF. He has received an NSF CAREER Award, a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship, among other honors.
For more about Khot, see the story and video here (courtesy of the Simons Foundation's Quanta Magazine).