Vietnamese math genius receives top French honor

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Famous Vietnamese mathematician Prof. Ngo Bao Chau has received the French Legion of Honor medal from president Nicolas Sarkozy.

The French Legion of Honor, created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, is the highest decoration in France. It was awarded to Chau in Paris late last month, he told local media recently.

Chau, who teaches at the University of Chicago, returned to Vietnam in mid-January to chair a math conference and prepare for the opening of Vietnam Institute of Advanced Math.

In 2010, he won the Fields Medal, the mathematics version of the Nobel Prize. Since the prize was founded by the International Mathematical Union in 1936, only three Asian mathematicians have won it, all of whom were from Japan. Up to four medals are awarded every four years.

The 40-year-old mathematician received his doctoral degree from Université Paris-Sud in 1997. He returned to Vietnam upon the government's request to help implement the national 2010-2020 math development program, after accepting a professorship at the University of Chicago.

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Recent Vietnamese winners of the French honor include Nguyen Thi That Peel in 2010, a Vietnamese-French citizen who arranged for a lot of medicines and medical equipment to be sent to Vietnam; and had many French doctors visit the country for charity healthcare projects.

Another winner, in 2011, was Nguyen Thi Xuan Phuong, a former war reporter and documentary director of Vietnam Television who wrote many reports and translated different documents to introduce Vietnam to French readers for more than 30 years.

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