Terence Tao  

Traditional Chinese  陶哲軒  
Simplified Chinese  陶哲轩  

Terence "Terry" ChiShen Tao FAA FRS (born 17 July 1975) is an AustralianAmerican mathematician. He is a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he holds the James and Carol Collins chair. His research includes topics in harmonic analysis, partial differential equations, algebraic combinatorics, arithmetic combinatorics, geometric combinatorics, probability theory, compressed sensing and analytic number theory.^{[4]}
He was a recipient of the 2006 Fields Medal and the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. He is also a 2006 MacArthur Fellow. Tao has been the author or coauthor of over three hundred research papers.^{[5]} He is widely regarded as one of the greatest living mathematicians.^{[6]}^{[7]}^{[8]}^{[9]}
Tao's parents are firstgeneration immigrants from Hong Kong to Australia.^{[10]} Tao's father, Billy Tao (Chinese: 陶象國; pinyin: Táo Xiàngguó), was a paediatrician who was born in Shanghai, China, and earned his medical degree (MBBS) from the University of Hong Kong in 1969.^{[11]} Tao's mother, Grace (Chinese: 梁蕙蘭; Jyutping: Loeng^{4} Wai^{6}laan^{4}), is from Hong Kong; she received a firstclass honours degree in astrophysics and mathematics at the University of Hong Kong.^{[12]} She was a secondary school teacher of mathematics and physics in Hong Kong.^{[13]} Billy and Grace met as students at the University of Hong Kong.^{[14]} They then emigrated from Hong Kong to Australia in 1972.^{[10]}^{[12]}
Tao also has two brothers, who are living in Australia. Both formerly represented the country at the International Mathematical Olympiad.^{[15]} Tao's wife is an electrical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.^{[12]}^{[16]} They live with their son and daughter in Los Angeles, California.^{[12]}
A child prodigy,^{[17]} Tao exhibited extraordinary mathematical abilities from an early age, attending universitylevel mathematics courses at the age of 9. He is one of only two children in the history of the Johns Hopkins' Study of Exceptional Talent program to have achieved a score of 700 or greater on the SAT math section while just eight years old; Tao scored a 760.^{[18]}^{[19]} Julian Stanley, Director of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth, stated that he had the greatest mathematical reasoning ability he had found in years of intensive searching.^{[20]} Tao was the youngest participant to date in the International Mathematical Olympiad, first competing at the age of ten; in 1986, 1987, and 1988, he won a bronze, silver, and gold medal, respectively. He remains the youngest winner of each of the three medals in the Olympiad's history, having won the gold medal at the age of 13 in 1988.^{[21]}
At age 14, Tao attended the Research Science Institute. When he was 15, he published his first assistant paper. In 1991, he received his bachelor's and master's degrees at the age of 16 from Flinders University under the direction of Garth Gaudry.^{[22]} In 1992, he won a Postgraduate Fulbright Scholarship to undertake research in mathematics at Princeton University in the United States. From 1992 to 1996, Tao was a graduate student at Princeton University under the direction of Elias Stein, receiving his PhD at the age of 21.^{[22]} In 1996, he joined the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1999, when he was 24, he was promoted to full professor at UCLA and remains the youngest person ever appointed to that rank by the institution.^{[22]}
He is known for his collaborative mindset; by 2006, Tao had worked with over 30 others in his discoveries,^{[23]} reaching 68 coauthors by October 2015.
Tao has had a particularly extensive collaboration with British mathematician Ben J. Green; together they proved the Green–Tao theorem, which is wellknown among both amateur and professional mathematicians. This theorem states that there are arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions of prime numbers. The New York Times described it this way:^{[24]}^{[25]}
In 2004, Dr. Tao, along with Ben Green, a mathematician now at the University of Cambridge in England, solved a problem related to the Twin Prime Conjecture by looking at prime number progressions—series of numbers equally spaced. (For example, 3, 7 and 11 constitute a progression of prime numbers with a spacing of 4; the next number in the sequence, 15, is not prime.) Dr. Tao and Dr. Green proved that it is always possible to find, somewhere in the infinity of integers, a progression of prime numbers of equal spacing and any length.
Many other results of Tao have received mainstream attention in the scientific press, including:
Tao has also resolved or made progress on a number of conjectures. In 2012, Green and Tao announced proofs of the conjectured "orchardplanting problem," which asks for the maximum number of lines through exactly 3 points in a set of n points in the plane, not all on a line. In 2018, with Brad Rodgers, Tao improved the best available lower bound for the de Bruijn–Newman constant.^{[29]} In 2020, Tao proved Sendov's conjecture for large .^{[30]}
British mathematician and Fields medalist Timothy Gowers remarked on Tao's breadth of knowledge:^{[31]}
Tao's mathematical knowledge has an extraordinary combination of breadth and depth: he can write confidently and authoritatively on topics as diverse as partial differential equations, analytic number theory, the geometry of 3manifolds, nonstandard analysis, group theory, model theory, quantum mechanics, probability, ergodic theory, combinatorics, harmonic analysis, image processing, functional analysis, and many others. Some of these are areas to which he has made fundamental contributions. Others are areas that he appears to understand at the deep intuitive level of an expert despite officially not working in those areas. How he does all this, as well as writing papers and books at a prodigious rate, is a complete mystery. It has been said that David Hilbert was the last person to know all of mathematics, but it is not easy to find gaps in Tao's knowledge, and if you do then you may well find that the gaps have been filled a year later.
An article by New Scientist^{[32]} writes of his ability:
Such is Tao's reputation that mathematicians now compete to interest him in their problems, and he is becoming a kind of Mr Fixit for frustrated researchers. "If you're stuck on a problem, then one way out is to interest Terence Tao," says Charles Fefferman [professor of mathematics at Princeton University].^{[33]}
Tao has won numerous mathematician honours and awards over the years.^{[34]} He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the Australian Academy of Science (Corresponding Member), the National Academy of Sciences (Foreign member), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society,^{[35]} and the American Mathematical Society.^{[36]} In 2006 he received the Fields Medal; he was the first Australian, the first UCLA faculty member, and one of the youngest mathematicians to receive the award.^{[33]}^{[37]} He was also awarded the MacArthur Fellowship. He has been featured in The New York Times, CNN, USA Today, Popular Science, and many other media outlets.^{[38]} In 2014, Tao received a CTY Distinguished Alumni Honor from Johns Hopkins Center for Gifted and Talented Youth in front of 979 attendees in 8th and 9th grade that are in the same program from which Tao graduated. In 2021, President Joe Biden announced Tao had been selected as one of 30 members of his President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a body bringing together America's most distinguished leaders in science and technology.^{[39]} In 2021, Tao was awarded the Riemann Prize Week as recipient of the inaugural Riemann Prize 2019 by the Riemann International School of Mathematics at the University of Insubria.^{[40]} Tao was a finalist to become Australian of the Year in 2007.^{[41]}
As of 2019, Tao has published nearly 350 research papers and 18 books.^{[42]} He has an Erdős number of 2.^{[43]} He is a highly cited researcher.^{[44]}^{[45]}
From 2001 to 2010, Tao was part of a wellknown collaboration with James Colliander, Markus Keel, Gigliola Staffilani, and Hideo Takaoka. They found a number of novel results, many to do with the wellposedness of weak solutions, for Schrödinger equations, KdV equations, and KdVtype equations.^{[C+03]}
Michael Christ, Colliander, and Tao developed methods of Carlos Kenig, Gustavo Ponce, and Luis Vega to establish illposedness of certain Schrödinger and KdV equations for Sobolev data of sufficiently low exponents.^{[CCT03]}^{[46]} In many cases these results were sharp enough to perfectly complement wellposedness results for sufficiently large exponents as due to Bourgain, Colliander−Keel−Staffilani−Takaoka−Tao, and others. Further such notable results for Schrödinger equations were found by Tao in collaboration with Ioan Bejenaru.^{[BT06]}
A particularly notable result of the Colliander−Keel−Staffilani−Takaoka−Tao collaboration established the longtime existence and scattering theory of a powerlaw Schrödinger equation in three dimensions.^{[C+08]} Their methods, which made use of the scaleinvariance of the simple power law, were extended by Tao in collaboration with Monica Vișan and Xiaoyi Zhang to deal with nonlinearities in which the scaleinvariance is broken.^{[TVZ07]} Rowan Killip, Tao, and Vișan later made notable progress on the twodimensional problem in radial symmetry.^{[KTV09]}
A technical tour de force by Tao in 2001 considered the wave maps equation with twodimensional domain and spherical range.^{[T01a]} He built upon earlier innovations of Daniel Tataru, who considered wave maps valued in Minkowski space.^{[47]} Tao proved the global wellposedness of solutions with sufficiently small initial data. The fundamental difficulty is that Tao considers smallness relative to the critical Sobolev norm, which typically requires sophisticated techniques. Tao later adapted some of his work on wave maps to the setting of the Benjamin–Ono equation; Alexandru Ionescu and Kenig later obtained improved results with Tao's methods.^{[T04a]}^{[48]}
Bent Fuglede introduced the Fuglede conjecture in the 1970s, positing a tilebased characterization of those Euclidean domains for which a Fourier ensemble provides a basis of L^{2}.^{[49]} Tao resolved the conjecture in the negative for dimensions larger than 5, based upon the construction of an elementary counterexample to an analogous problem in the setting of finite groups.^{[T04b]}
With Camil Muscalu and Christoph Thiele, Tao considered certain multilinear singular integral operators with the multiplier allowed to degenerate on a hyperplane, identifying conditions which ensure operator continuity relative to L^{p} spaces.^{[MTT02]} This unified and extended earlier notable results of Ronald Coifman, Carlos Kenig, Michael Lacey, Yves Meyer, Elias Stein, and Thiele, among others.^{[50]}^{[51]}^{[52]}^{[53]}^{[54]}^{[55]} Similar problems were analyzed by Tao in 2001 in the context of Bourgain spaces, rather than the usual L^{p} spaces.^{[T01b]} Such estimates are used in establishing wellposedness results for dispersive partial differential equations, following famous earlier work of Jean Bourgain, Kenig, Gustavo Ponce, and Luis Vega, among others.^{[56]}^{[57]}
A number of Tao's results deal with "restriction" phenomena in Fourier analysis, which have been widely studied since seminal articles of Charles Fefferman, Robert Strichartz, and Peter Tomas in the 1970s.^{[58]}^{[59]}^{[60]} Here one studies the operation which restricts input functions on Euclidean space to a submanifold and outputs the product of the Fourier transforms of the corresponding measures. It is of major interest to identify exponents such that this operation is continuous relative to L^{p} spaces. Such multilinear problems originated in the 1990s, including in notable work of Jean Bourgain, Sergiu Klainerman, and Matei Machedon.^{[61]}^{[62]}^{[63]} In collaboration with Ana Vargas and Luis Vega, Tao made some foundational contributions to the study of the bilinear restriction problem, establishing new exponents and drawing connections to the linear restriction problem. They also found analogous results for the bilinear Kakeya problem which is based upon the Xray transform instead of the Fourier transform.^{[TVV98]} In 2003, Tao adapted ideas developed by Thomas Wolff for bilinear restriction to conical sets into the setting of restriction to quadratic hypersurfaces.^{[T03]}^{[64]} The multilinear setting for these problems was further developed by Tao in collaboration with Jonathan Bennett and Anthony Carbery; their work was extensively used by Bourgain and Larry Guth in deriving estimates for general oscillatory integral operators.^{[BCT06]}^{[65]}
In collaboration with Emmanuel Candes and Justin Romberg, Tao has made notable contributions to the field of compressed sensing. In mathematical terms, most of their results identify settings in which a convex optimization problem correctly computes the solution of an optimization problem which seems to lack a computationally tractable structure. These problems are of the nature of finding the solution of an underdetermined linear system with the minimal possible number of nonzero entries, referred to as "sparsity". Around the same time, David Donoho considered similar problems from the alternative perspective of highdimensional geometry.^{[66]}
Motivated by striking numerical experiments, Candes, Romberg, and Tao first studied the case that the matrix is given by the discrete Fourier transform.^{[CRT06a]} Candes and Tao abstracted the problem and introduced the notion of a "restricted linear isometry," which is a matrix that is quantitatively close to an isometry when restricted to certain subspaces.^{[CT05]} They showed that it is sufficient for either exact or optimally approximate recovery of sufficiently sparse solutions. Their proofs, which involved the theory of convex duality, were markedly simplified in collaboration with Romberg, to use only linear algebra and elementary ideas of harmonic analysis.^{[CRT06b]} These ideas and results were later improved by Candes.^{[67]} Candes and Tao also considered relaxations of the sparsity condition, such as powerlaw decay of coefficients.^{[CT06]} They complemented these results by drawing on a large corpus of past results in random matrix theory to show that, according to the Gaussian ensemble, a large number of matrices satisfy the restricted isometry property.^{[CT06]}
In 2009, Candes and Benjamin Recht considered an analogous problem for recovering a matrix from knowledge of only a few of its entries and the information that the matrix is of low rank.^{[68]} They formulated the problem in terms of convex optimization, studying minimization of the nuclear norm. Candes and Tao, in 2010, developed further results and techniques for the same problem.^{[CT10]} Improved results were later found by Recht.^{[69]} Similar problems and results have also been considered by a number of other authors.^{[70]}^{[71]}^{[72]}^{[73]}^{[74]}
In 2007, Candes and Tao introduced a novel statistical estimator for linear regression, which they called the "Dantzig selector." They proved a number of results on its success as an estimator and model selector, roughly in parallel to their earlier work on compressed sensing.^{[CT07]} A number of other authors have since studied the Dantzig selector, comparing it to similar objects such as the statistical lasso introduced in the 1990s.^{[75]} Trevor Hastie, Robert Tibshirani, and Jerome H. Friedman conclude that it is "somewhat unsatisfactory" in a number of cases.^{[76]} Nonetheless it remains to be of significant interest in the statistical literature.
In the 1950s, Eugene Wigner initiated the study of random matrices and their eigenvalues.^{[77]}^{[78]} Wigner studied the case of hermitian and symmetric matrices, proving a "semicircle law" for their eigenvalues. In 2010, Tao and Van Vu made a major contribution to the study of nonsymmetric random matrices. They showed that if n is large and the entries of a n × n matrix A are selected randomly according to any fixed probability distribution of average 0 and standard deviation 1, then the eigenvalues of A will tend to be uniformly scattered across the disk of radius n^{1/2} around the origin; this can be made precise using the language of measure theory.^{[TV10]} This gave a proof of the longconjectured circular law, which had previously been proved in weaker formulations by many other authors. In Tao and Vu's formulation, the circular law becomes an immediate consequence of a "universality principle" stating that the distribution of the eigenvalues can depend only on the average and standard deviation of the given componentbycomponent probability distribution, thereby providing a reduction of the general circular law to a calculation for speciallychosen probability distributions.
In 2011, Tao and Vu established a "four moment theorem", which applies to random hermitian matrices whose components are independently distributed, each with average 0 and standard deviation 1, and which are exponentially unlikely to be large (as for a Gaussian distribution). If one considers two such random matrices which agree on the average value of any quadratic polynomial in the diagonal entries and on the average value of any quartic polynomial in the offdiagonal entries, then Tao and Vu show that the expected value of a large number of functions of the eigenvalues will also coincide, up to an error which is uniformly controllable by the size of the matrix and which becomes arbitrarily small as the size of the matrix increases.^{[TV11]} Similar results were obtained around the same time by László Erdös, HorngTzer Yau, and Jun Yin.^{[79]}^{[80]}
In 2004, Tao, together with Jean Bourgain and Nets Katz, studied the additive and multiplicative structure of subsets of finite fields of prime order.^{[BKT04]} It is well known that there are no nontrivial subrings of such a field. Bourgain, Katz, and Tao provided a quantitative formulation of this fact, showing that for any subset of such a field, the number of sums and products of elements of the subset must be quantitatively large, as compared to the size of the field and the size of the subset itself. Improvements of their result were later given by Bourgain, Alexey Glibichuk, and Sergei Konyagin.^{[81]}^{[82]}
Tao and Ben Green proved the existence of arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions in the prime numbers; this result is generally referred to as the Green–Tao theorem, is among Tao's most wellknown results.^{[GT08]} The source of Green and Tao's arithmetic progressions is Endre Szemerédi's seminal 1975 theorem on existence of arithmetic progressions in certain sets of integers. Green and Tao showed that one can use a "transference principle" to extend the validity of Szemerédi's theorem to further sets of integers. The Green–Tao theorem then arises as a special case, although it is not trivial to show that the prime numbers satisfy the conditions of Green and Tao's extension of the Szemerédi theorem.
In 2010, Green and Tao gave a multilinear extension of Dirichlet's celebrated theorem on arithmetic progressions. Given a k × n matrix A and a k × 1 matrix v whose components are all integers, Green and Tao give conditions on when there exist infinitely many n × 1 matrices x such that all components of Ax + v are prime numbers.^{[GT10]} The proof of Green and Tao was incomplete, as it was conditioned upon unproven conjectures. Those conjectures were proved in later work of Green, Tao, and Tamar Ziegler.^{[GTZ12]}
Textbooks
Research articles. Tao is the author of over 300 articles. The following, among the most cited, are surveyed above.
KT98.  Keel, Markus; Tao, Terence. Endpoint Strichartz estimates. Amer. J. Math. 120 (1998), no. 5, 955–980.

TVV98.  Tao, Terence; Vargas, Ana; Vega, Luis. A bilinear approach to the restriction and Kakeya conjectures. J. Amer. Math. Soc. 11 (1998), no. 4, 967–1000.

KT99.  Knutson, Allen; Tao, Terence. The honeycomb model of tensor products. I. Proof of the saturation conjecture. J. Amer. Math. Soc. 12 (1999), no. 4, 1055–1090.

C+01.  Colliander, J.; Keel, M.; Staffilani, G.; Takaoka, H.; Tao, T. Global wellposedness for Schrödinger equations with derivative. SIAM J. Math. Anal. 33 (2001), no. 3, 649–669.

T01a.  Tao, Terence. Global regularity of wave maps. II. Small energy in two dimensions. Comm. Math. Phys. 224 (2001), no. 2, 443–544.

T01b.  Tao, Terence. Multilinear weighted convolution of L^{2}functions, and applications to nonlinear dispersive equations. Amer. J. Math. 123 (2001), no. 5, 839–908.

C+02a.  Colliander, J.; Keel, M.; Staffilani, G.; Takaoka, H.; Tao, T. A refined global wellposedness result for Schrödinger equations with derivative. SIAM J. Math. Anal. 34 (2002), no. 1, 64–86.

C+02b.  Colliander, J.; Keel, M.; Staffilani, G.; Takaoka, H.; Tao, T. Almost conservation laws and global rough solutions to a nonlinear Schrödinger equation. Math. Res. Lett. 9 (2002), no. 5–6, 659–682.

MTT02.  Muscalu, Camil; Tao, Terence; Thiele, Christoph. Multilinear operators given by singular multipliers. J. Amer. Math. Soc. 15 (2002), no. 2, 469–496.

CCT03.  Christ, Michael; Colliander, James; Tao, Terrence. Asymptotics, frequency modulation, and low regularity illposedness for canonical defocusing equations. Amer. J. Math. 125 (2003), no. 6, 1235–1293.

C+03.  Colliander, J.; Keel, M.; Staffilani, G.; Takaoka, H.; Tao, T. Sharp global wellposedness for KdV and modified KdV on and . J. Amer. Math. Soc. 16 (2003), no. 3, 705–749.

T03.  Tao, T. A sharp bilinear restrictions estimate for paraboloids. Geom. Funct. Anal. 13 (2003), no. 6, 1359–1384.

BKT04.  Bourgain, J.; Katz, N.; Tao, T. A sumproduct estimate in finite fields, and applications. Geom. Funct. Anal. 14 (2004), no. 1, 27–57.

C+04.  Colliander, J.; Keel, M.; Staffilani, G.; Takaoka, H.; Tao, T. Global existence and scattering for rough solutions of a nonlinear Schrödinger equation on ^{3}. Comm. Pure Appl. Math. 57 (2004), no. 8, 987–1014.

KTW04.  Knutson, Allen; Tao, Terence; Woodward, Christopher. The honeycomb model of tensor products. II. Puzzles determine facets of the LittlewoodRichardson cone. J. Amer. Math. Soc. 17 (2004), no. 1, 19–48.

T04a.  Tao, Terence. Global wellposedness of the BenjaminOno equation in H^{1}(). J. Hyperbolic Differ. Equ. 1 (2004), no. 1, 27–49.

T04b.  Tao, Terence. Fuglede's conjecture is false in 5 and higher dimensions. Math. Res. Lett. 11 (2004), no. 2–3, 251–258.

CT05.  Candes, Emmanuel J.; Tao, Terence. Decoding by linear programming. IEEE Trans. Inform. Theory 51 (2005), no. 12, 4203–4215.

BT06.  Bejenaru, Ioan; Tao, Terence. Sharp wellposedness and illposedness results for a quadratic nonlinear Schrödinger equation. J. Funct. Anal. 233 (2006), no. 1, 228–259.

BCT06.  Bennett, Jonathan; Carbery, Anthony; Tao, Terence. On the multilinear restriction and Kakeya conjectures. Acta Math. 196 (2006), no. 2, 261–302.

CRT06a.  Candès, Emmanuel J.; Romberg, Justin K.; Tao, Terence. Stable signal recovery from incomplete and inaccurate measurements. Comm. Pure Appl. Math. 59 (2006), no. 8, 1207–1223.

CRT06b.  Candès, Emmanuel J.; Romberg, Justin; Tao, Terence. Robust uncertainty principles: exact signal reconstruction from highly incomplete frequency information. IEEE Trans. Inform. Theory 52 (2006), no. 2, 489–509.

CT06.  Candes, Emmanuel J.; Tao, Terence. Nearoptimal signal recovery from random projections: universal encoding strategies? IEEE Trans. Inform. Theory 52 (2006), no. 12, 5406–5425.

CT07.  Candes, Emmanuel; Tao, Terence. The Dantzig selector: statistical estimation when p is much larger than n. Ann. Statist. 35 (2007), no. 6, 2313–2351.

TVZ07.  Tao, Terence; Visan, Monica; Zhang, Xiaoyi. The nonlinear Schrödinger equation with combined powertype nonlinearities. Comm. Partial Differential Equations 32 (2007), no. 7–9, 1281–1343.

C+08.  Colliander, J.; Keel, M.; Staffilani, G.; Takaoka, H.; Tao, T. Global wellposedness and scattering for the energycritical nonlinear Schrödinger equation in ^{3}. Ann. of Math. (2) 167 (2008), no. 3, 767–865.

GT08.  Green, Ben; Tao, Terence. The primes contain arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions. Ann. of Math. (2) 167 (2008), no. 2, 481–547.

KTV09.  Killip, Rowan; Tao, Terence; Visan, Monica. The cubic nonlinear Schrödinger equation in two dimensions with radial data. J. Eur. Math. Soc. (JEMS) 11 (2009), no. 6, 1203–1258.

CT10.  Candès, Emmanuel J.; Tao, Terence. The power of convex relaxation: nearoptimal matrix completion. IEEE Trans. Inform. Theory 56 (2010), no. 5, 2053–2080.

GT10.  Green, Benjamin; Tao, Terence. Linear equations in primes. Ann. of Math. (2) 171 (2010), no. 3, 1753–1850.

TV10.  Tao, Terence; Vu, Van. Random matrices: universality of ESDs and the circular law. With an appendix by Manjunath Krishnapur. Ann. Probab. 38 (2010), no. 5, 2023–2065.

TV11.  Tao, Terence; Vu, Van. Random matrices: universality of local eigenvalue statistics. Acta Math. 206 (2011), no. 1, 127–204.

GTZ12.  Green, Ben; Tao, Terence; Ziegler, Tamar. An inverse theorem for the Gowers U^{s+1}[N]norm. Ann. of Math. (2) 176 (2012), no. 2, 1231–1372.

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