CMI recognizes Manjul Bhargava for his discovery of new composition laws for quadratic forms, and for his work on the average size of ideal class groups. The field of composition laws had lain dormant for 200 years since the pioneering work of C.F Gauss. The laws discovered by Bhargava were a complete surprise, and led him to another major breakthrough, namey, counting the number of quartic and quintic number fields with given discriminant. The ideal class group is an object of fundamental importance in number theory. Nonetheless, despite some conjectures of Cohen and Lenstra about this problem, there was not a single proven case before Bhargava's work. Bhargava solved the problem for the 2-part of the class groups of cubic fields, in which case, curiously, the numerical evidence had led people to doubt the Cohen-Lenstra heuristics.
Manjul Bhargava was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada but spent most of his early years in Long Island, New York. He received his A.B. in Mathematics summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1996 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University under the advisorship of Andrew Wiles in 2001. After brief visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study and Harvard University, he joined the faculty of Princeton University as Professor of Mathematics in 2003. An accomplished tabla player whose primary research interests lie in number theory, representation theory, and algebraic geometry, Bhargava has received numerous awards and honors, including three Derek Bok Awards for Excellence in Teaching (1993-95), the Hoopes Prize for Excellence in Scholarly Work and Research from Harvard University (1996), the AMS-MAA-SIAM Morgan Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (1997), the MAA Merten M. Hasse Prize for Exposition (2003), a Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering (2004), and the AMS Blumenthal Award for the Advancement of Pure Mathematics (2005). Bhargava was also the Clay Mathematics Institute's first five-year Research Fellow (2000-05). He was named one of Popular Science magazine's "Brilliant 10" in 2002.