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News & Notes: 3 alumni named in top 10 most intelligent people in the world

Three alumni have been named to Gazette Review's “Top 10 Most Intelligent People in the World” list, which was published on April 8.

The list includes Terence Tao GS '96, who was named the world's most intelligent person, along with Christopher Hirata GS '05 and Akshay Venkatesh GS '02. All three are professors based in the United States.


Tao is currently the James and Carol Collins Chair of the Mathematics Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. He obtained his bachelor's and master's degree from Flinders University in Australia at the age of 16. He received his Ph.D. from the University at the age of 21, where he worked under Professor of Mathematics Elias Stein. Tao was named a full professor at UCLA and holds the distinction of being the youngest person to achieve this rank at UCLA, at the age of 24. In 2006, Tao was named a co-recipient of the Fields Medal, often described as the "Mathematics Nobel Prize," and in 2014 he received the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. He was named as a finalist for Australian of the Year in 2007, and received a $500,000 grant for winning the Alan T. Waterman Award in 2008. He is well-known for his proof of the Green-Tao Theorem, which states that there are arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions of prime numbers, as well as Tao's Inequality. His current research focuses on harmonic analysis and analytic number theory.

Hirata, who was named the third most intelligent person in the world, is a professor of physics at The Ohio State University. He received his bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology in 2001 at the age of 18 and was the youngest American to win a gold medal at the International Physics Olympiad at the age of 13. At the age of 16, Hirata worked with NASA to help with their mission to colonize Mars, and at the age of 18 he published a paper titled "The Physics of Relationships." In 2005, Hirata received a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, and worked at the California Institute of Technology until moving to Ohio State in 2012. Hirata's IQ has been stated to be around 225, which is one of the highest in the world.

Venkatesh, who was named the seventh most intelligent person in the world, is a Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University. He entered the University of Western Australia at the age of 13 as the youngest ever student, and received First Class Honours in Pure Mathematics in 1997. He also received the J.A. Woods Memorial Prize for being the leading graduating student. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics under Professor of Mathematics Peter Sarnak in 2002 and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study from 2005 to 2006. He has received the Salem Prize, the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize, and the Infosys Prize in Mathematical Sciences. His research focuses on representation theory and ergodic theory.