Manindra Agrawal

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Manindra Agrawal
Born (1966-05-20) May 20, 1966 (age 48)
Allahabad, India
Residence Kanpur
Nationality Indian
Fields Computer Science
Institutions Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Alma mater Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
Doctoral advisor Somenath Biswas
Doctoral students Neeraj Kayal
Nitin Saxena
Known for AKS primality test
Notable awards Clay Research Award (2002)
S S Bhatnagar Prize (2003)
ICTP Prize (2003)
Fulkerson Prize (2006)
Gödel Prize (2006)
G.D. Birla Award for Scientific Research (2009)
Padma Shri (2013)

Manindra Agrawal (born 20 May 1966) is a professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Dean of Faculty Affairs (DoFA) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He was also the recipient of the first Infosys Prize for Mathematics.,[1] and the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Mathematical Sciences in 2003. He has been honored with Padma Shri in 2013.[2]

Early life[edit]

Graduating from IIT Kanpur in 1986, Dr. Agarwal decided to stay on India and continue his Phd at IIT Kanpur. Now, he was neither a part of New Policy of Education, nor did he indulge in the sentiment of a Bollywood song but his reason for not going to US was that he could not muster enough courage to study for GRE.

He was an ace student. He had a CPI of 9.3, while the Institute average usually hovers around 7. His All Indian Rank was 38! And he was a Computer Science student. But he could not motivate himself to take the GRE. GRE is a much simpler exam than JEE and lacs of students, all over the world – especially from India – take it every year to go to USA for further studies. The exam involved mugging up virtually the whole English Dictionary. He did start the process but could never motivate himself enough to keep doing it. Thus one of the biggest factors in his staying in IIT Kanpur to continue his Phd was his inability to mug up the dictionary, consequently he did not take the GRE.

His not going to US and continuing to study at IIT K would have much larger implications in his life and around. He enrolled to do his research with Dr. Biswas in the Computer Science department at IIT Kanpur itself.

Not that that is what he wanted to do forever. There were many other tempting options like management, civil services and even other jobs. But, he had never had any inclination towards Management or Civil Services. Software industry had started functioning in its own accord. As far as software industry went, he had worked as an intern at a software firm. He had to implement Binary Tree as his assignment there – something which was far from challenging for an IIT Kanpur, Computer Science graduate. That gave him the idea that even a software job is not going to satisfy him – intellectually. So the only option that he had left for him was to pursue further studies and eventually get into research.

Coming from the background that he did, he did not face any music about making such choices. If at all, his parents were only happy that he had decided to stay back in India. Dr. Agarwal has an elder brother who is now settled in United States of America, and his brother has been almost guilty of making that choice. Similarly a distant relative had moved to US and the rest of the family did not necessarily look at it as a great achievement. This was remarkable because typically there is a lot of prize and prestige associated with a son living abroad.

Dr. Agarwal’s parents are retired teachers. His father taught Mathematics at Allahabad University and his mother taught Education there. His parents had never wanted their kids to go to the US – may be because they were from a small town – Allahabad. Allahabad, a small town from certain aspects, is otherwise a place of great importance. Allahabad also used to be a center of education until 90’s, not any more though. Allahabad is perhaps the most famous for Prayag – where the rivers Ganga, Jamuna & Saraswati come together. It is considered a great holy destination amongst Hindus.

They lived in a rather congested area called Khuldabad in Allahabad. And the people they dwelt with created no pressures on him to do anything he did not want to do. His childhood was like the childhood of any other North Indian kid – strewn with comics like Champak, Motu-Patlu, Chandamama, Nandan etc. However, he enjoyed mathematics even as a child. Living in the region in which they did, it did not offer him much opportunity for sports. Playing cricket in the lanes was where it ended. He read a lot even as a child – Enid Blyton being one of his early favorites. But he had had an early interest in Mathematics and he pretty much read any book about mathematics he could lay his hands on. However, he would never go and ask someone to get him some book or get a book from the library. He was a shy kid. He was also not particularly studious.

Career[edit]

He co-created the AKS primality test with Neeraj Kayal and Nitin Saxena, for which he and his co-authors won the 2002 Clay Research Award, the 2006 Fulkerson Prize, and the 2006 Gödel Prize. The test is the first deterministic algorithm to test an n-digit number for primality in a time that has been proven to be polynomial in n.[3]

In September 2008, Agrawal was chosen for the first Infosys Mathematics Prize for outstanding contributions in the broad field of mathematics.[4] He was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in 2003-04.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • G D Birla Award (2009)
  • Padma Shri (2013)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Infosys Prize 2008
  2. ^ "List of Padma awardees" (Press release). New Delhi: NDTV. January 25, 2013. Retrieved January 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ Agrawal, Manindra. "Publications". Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Bangalore: IIT-Kanpur professor bags first Infosys Mathematics Prize". Mangalorean.com. 16 September 2008. 
  5. ^ Institute for Advanced Study: A Community of Scholars

External links[edit]