This autumn, I got the chance to ask a few questions of Ngô Bảu Châu.
If your jaw is not on the floor, it’s because (A) you’ve spent shockingly little time browsing the list of Fields Medal winners, and (B) you’re not Vietnamese.
A helpful Vietnamese journalist I met explained to be that Châu is “the biggest celebrity in Vietnam.” Châu won his Fields Medal in 2010 for proving—hands inside the vehicle, please, because this is a wild ride—a key relationship between “orbital integrals on a reductive group over a local field” and “stable orbital integrals on its endoscopic groups.”
In Vietnam, that relationship is apparently the one sizzling on tabloid covers.
Châu is not your prototypical superstar. Even in Vietnam, apparently, he is a cryptic figure; not a chatty TV celebrity, but a silent legend. At the press conference where I met him, at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, he gave some journalists…
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