Neena Gupta, a mathematician and a professor at the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, has been rewarded the 2021 DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize for young mathematicians from developing nations. She received the prize for her excellent performance in affine algebraic geometry and commutative algebra to answer the Zariski cancellation problem for affine spaces. Her reply for solving the Zariski cancellation problem earned her the 2014 Young Scientists Award of the Indian National Science Academy. Courteous by the accomplishment, Neena said that it is an honor to receive the reward, but there is more to be done in the field of commutative algebra.
Ramanujan Prize Winner : Neena said she felt honored to receive this prize; however, that is not enough. As a researcher, she feels many more mathematical problems have to find a solution. Getting recognized for the work definitely motivates one to work harder in the research field. Gupta was raised in Kolkata. She completed her studies at Khalsa High School, Dunlop, after which she went to study BSc Maths (H) at Bethune College. She earned a Masters and PhD. in mathematics from the Indian Statistical Institute.
Ramanujan Prize Winner : Gupta shared that Mathematics has always been her favorite subject since childhood. However, till very late, she had no idea that she could even pursue a degree, let alone have a career in mathematics. One of her seniors introduced her to the BSc Maths course, and she was elated with the opportunity to learn and solve maths problems. The initial idea was to get a decent degree and get married. That’s what her family had taught her until she was in college. But once they realized her interest in the subject, they motivated her to continue pursuing it. Her mother has been the biggest support throughout her life, and because of her sacrifices, she was able to pursue higher education, she further explained.
Ramanujan Prize Winner: Talking about the general notion, where it is believed that boys usually do better in calculative subjects than girls, Gupta said that the trend is changing now. “Earlier during my post-graduation, I was the only girl in my class. But now when I am a professor, I see more women pursuing the maths field. One reason could be awareness among youth as well as parents who now give opportunities to their daughters to pursue their interests,” she said. “ISI Kolkata is one of the premier institutes for any one who is interested in pursuing statistics and mathematics for higher education. The course structure, faculty and the environment of the institute is the reason why its alumni are highly successful in their fields,” Gupta said.
Ramanujan Prize Winner award is for mathematicians under 45 years of age, presented by Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, and supported by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India. Gupta is the third woman to receive the prestigious prize and the fourth Indian. Before her, three of the four winners were also associated with ISI Kolkata.
There are many more issues surrounding the Zariski challenge. She said she is working to solve them. Although she didn’t know if and when she would do it, she had to devise a method to crack it.
Ramanujan Prize Winner : The Zariski Cancellation Problem is a basic problem in algebraic geometry and is often described as among the world’s most significant mathematical problems. To explain it in Gupta’s own words: “The cancellation problem asks that if you have cylinders over two geometric structures, and that have similar forms, can one conclude that the original base structures have similar forms?”
Ramanujan Prize Winner: Ministry of Science and Technology reported that the Indian National Science Academy had described Gupta’s effort as one of the best works in algebraic geometry in recent years done anywhere.