As a child, mathematics talent Ngo Bao Chau used to drink milk beyond the expiry date and he often washed dishes, swept the house, helped his mother do more.
The mother and daughter Ngo Bao Chau in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.Photos provided by Bao Chau's mother.
Bao Chau's mother, Associate Professor Dr. Tran Luu Van Hien, told stories about the difficult times when he was a little boy, learning mathematics and the love of a talented son.
The story begins with the basic lemma theme in Ngo Bao Chau's "Langlands Program" - Time magazine's work is listed in the list of '10 typical scientific findings in 2009'. According to Dr. Hien, Professor Bao Chau does not consider his research as 'blockbuster', 'miracle' or 'great' as some newspapers praised. The 37-year-old professor also did not want people to call him the 'most outstanding' mathematician or 'the world's leading' mathematician. Bao Chau's point of view is not to pay too much attention to compliments, because no one becomes smarter because it is praised.
Bao Chau was born and raised in a difficult period of the country. Unlike children in cities today, he often drinks milk beyond the shelf life, the mother told. The meals of his family are as meager as any other family. Although there was only one son, his mother and father - Dr. Ngo Huy Can - did not pamper Bao Chau. He always gets penalized if he makes a mistake and often washes dishes, washes clothes and helps his mother do more to increase income. Like many other eager students, Bao Chau never let his parents remind him of studying. In fact, Associate Professor Hien often urged me to sleep early to protect my health.
The time he spent at Giang Vo Experimental School in Hanoi positively influenced Bao Chau's way of learning, helping him to form a critical, independent and creative way of thinking. Every time he borrowed or bought a math book, Bao Chau often explained each exercise from start to finish. For other subjects, he did not learn to cram or remember every sentence.
Bao Chau student rarely watches TV because he doesn't like it. This habit is still maintained until now. While living in France and the United States, he did not use cable TV services so the three daughters had more time to study. Every Friday night, Bao Chau shows me the video to relax.
"She often joked that the three daughters of Chau lived as soldiers in the barracks. Their mothers also said that. The children were in the afternoon when living with their grandparents in Hanoi, but when they returned to France, they had to go to the mold. Because you don't have much time to pamper your children, Chau says that American TV channels are not good for children because of all the commercials, so he does not encourage them to watch TV since their arrival. America, " said Dr. Hien.
After Bao Chau's math talent was discovered, the teachers spent a lot of time fostering him. Among those people are Professor and Doctor of Science Le Tuan Hoa - currently Deputy Director of the Institute of Mathematics and Chairman of the Vietnam Mathematical Association. Although passionate and hardworking in his homework, Bao Chau does not learn to 'forget to forget to sleep'. He still spends time playing soccer, reading stories, listening to music, playing violin, playing chess or helping his mother do housework.
Although many mathematicians highly appreciate Bao Chau's talent, Associate Professor Hien never thought of her as 'outstanding' or 'prodigy'. She said that when studying mathematics, his study was on par with many classmates. When Bao Chau won an absolute score of 42/42 in the International Mathematical Olympiad exam when she was only 16 years old, she was happy for her achievements, but still did not think he would become a world-class mathematician later.
Professor Bao Chau took pictures with his mother and two daughters.Photos provided by Bao Chau's mother.
Interestingly, Bao Chau also believes in the spiritual element of examination. Before the exam, he often went to the temple. In addition, he likes to take his grandfather to take the exam and pick him up because it seems he brings luck. During examinations, Bao Chau student always carried a bottle of penicillin containing ginseng. Dr. Hien said that at that time she worked at the Central Traditional Medicine Hospital should be given priority to buy cheap tiny ginseng pieces. Enter the examination room, after reading the beginning of the article Bao Chau pulled the bottle of ginseng and drank it. The presence of a bottle of ginseng made him feel more confident during the lesson.
Bao Chau married at the age of 22 with a girl who studied mathematics at the same time in high school. The family helps him balance the spiritual life with scientific research. Bao Chau also faces many difficulties after getting married. At Paris 11 University he received a salary of 3,000 EUR per month, but every month he had to spend 1,500 EUR to pay the rent. His three daughters were raised by their paternal grandparents in Hanoi when they were about one or two years old because their parents did not have much time to care for them and had no maids. When they were 4-5 years old, they went to France to reunite with their parents.
In the past few years, he cooperated closely with the Institute of Mathematics to improve high-level math training in both quality and quantity. Bao Chau has invited many French math professors to Vietnam to teach the Institute of Mathematics and he himself teaches. In addition, he contacted several French universities so that graduate students could continue to study at those schools after a year at the Institute of Mathematics.
Bao Chau is hatching a project to set up a special research institute in Korea. It will be a place where scientists can wholeheartedly focus on research without having to worry about the trivial issues in everyday life.
Bao Chau does not consider money and reputation a top priority in life. He just wanted to have a normal, simple life and to do his favorite job. Chau told his mother that if he earns more money than necessary, he will use the extra money in charity, such as helping poor, orphaned or disabled children in Vietnam.