|Terence Tao has a gift — some might
call it genius — for unraveling complex mathematical problems. At
29, he has already solved some of the world's most challenging mind-benders,
including some that have eluded the world's most talented mathematicians
Tao is a professor at the UCLA department of mathematics, and his work in harmonic analysis, an advanced form of calculus, is advancing the field of mathematics — and the reputation of the department — at an impressive rate.
If the field of harmonic analysis seems esoteric, consider the fact that Tao's field of study is closely tied to many technological advances that we take for granted today. "Car radios," he says by way of example, "are much clearer now and have less interference as a result of advances in harmonic analysis. It's also why cell phones continue to get smaller and better."
Tao expresses optimism that the department, which currently lacks the benefit of an endowed chair, will eventually procure the funds necessary to create such a prestige position. "An endowed chair would greatly increase our ability to recruit young superstars, thereby enhancing future advances and further elevating the reputation of the department."
"The most satisfying thing for me is when a
student has that 'a-ha!' moment — where
suddenly a concept clicks and you know that
person will never have a problem with that