Welcome to the world of Terence Tao, a mathematical genius whose insights have illuminated some of the most profound mysteries of the discipline. Terence Tao is a prodigy whose exceptional talents were evident from a young age, and his contributions to mathematics have earned him accolades and admiration from peers around the globe. Born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1975, Tao’s journey into the realm of mathematics began when he started participating in math competitions at the age of seven, where he consistently outshone his competitors, foreshadowing the remarkable career that lay ahead.

Tao’s intellectual prowess knows no bounds, as evidenced by his groundbreaking work in various areas of mathematics, including harmonic analysis, partial differential equations, and number theory, among others. His ability to tackle complex problems with elegance and clarity has earned him numerous awards, including the prestigious Fields Medal in 2006, making him one of the youngest recipients of this honor. Beyond his research, Tao is also a dedicated educator, sharing his passion for mathematics with students and colleagues alike. With an unparalleled knack for simplifying intricate concepts, he has inspired countless individuals to delve deeper into the wonders of mathematics. Below, you’ll find a collection of insightful quotes from Terence Tao, offering glimpses into his profound understanding of the mathematical universe.

In 1992, when I was 16, I moved to the United States to start working on my Ph.D. at Princeton University in New Jersey. Terence Tao

My life is more than just my work. I am a husband and a father and a proud citizen of two countries: my homeland of Australia and my adopted country here in the United States. Terence Tao

When I was growing up, I knew I wanted to be a mathematician, but I had no idea what that entailed. Terence Tao

I don’t like accepting things at face value. Terence Tao

If I experiment enough, I get a deeper understanding. Terence Tao

The accuracy of Wikipedia can be dodgy in some places, but in maths, it’s really quite good. Terence Tao

I was never very good at school with… humanities… anything which was more a matter of opinion. Terence Tao

I have been lucky to find very good collaborators who have taught me a lot, have introduced me to several new fields of mathematics, or have shown me new insights. Terence Tao

You want to get to the top of the cliff. But that’s not what you focus on immediately. You focus on the next ledge just beyond your reach, because you need to do one clever thing to get up there. And then, once you get there, you do it again. A lot of this is rather boring and not very glamorous. But you can’t jump cliffs in a single bound. Terence Tao

I enjoy a good meal, a good vacation, or a good movie, much as anyone else would. Terence Tao

One can think of any given axiom system as being like a computer with a certain limited amount of memory or processing power. One could switch to a computer with even more storage, but no matter how large an amount of storage space the computer has, there will still exist some tasks that are beyond its ability. Terence Tao

Math education has changed over the years. In the 19th century, they taught spherical trigonometry because one of the biggest applications of mathematics was navigating the ocean. This is no longer so relevant. Terence Tao

Most students who take math classes aren’t going to be mathematicians. They’re going to be engineers, statisticians – in many ways, that’s the more important mission of math education. Terence Tao

When you’re concentrating hard, hours can fly by, and it’s just you and a math problem. Terence Tao

For me, I guess the main motivation is the satisfaction of finally understanding some tricky mathematical concept or phenomenon and then explaining it to others. Terence Tao

Most of what I do does not save lives. Terence Tao

If there is something that I should know how to do but don’t, it bugs me. I feel like I have to sit down and work out exactly what the problem is. Terence Tao

I recall being fascinated by numbers even at age three and viewed their manipulation as a kind of game. Terence Tao

I always liked numbers. Terence Tao

I often don’t know what I’ll be working on next year or a year from now. There is often a chance meeting, or something that I worked on 10 years ago suddenly becomes important again. Terence Tao

There might be a hidden structure in pi that we simply haven’t discovered. Terence Tao

Can you make fancy patterns of water that actually have some computation power? I’m betting that fluids are complex enough to do this. Terence Tao

I remember having this vague idea that what mathematicians did was that some authority, someone, gave them problems to solve, and they just sort of solved them. Terence Tao

A lot of the math that I do, it’s not sort of premeditated. I talk online or with a colleague, and I get interested, and I just follow where it leads. Terence Tao

What interests me is the connection between maths and the real world. Terence Tao

It is very humbling to receive the Fields Medal. The words of a Fields Medallist carry a lot of weight within mathematics – for instance, in framing future directions of research – which means that I have to watch what I say more carefully now! Terence Tao

If I don’t understand something properly, every single component, it really bugs me. Terence Tao

I always liked situations where there were very clear rules of what to do. Terence Tao

I don’t have any magical ability. I look at a problem, play with it, work out a strategy. Terence Tao

The standard high school curriculum traditionally has been focused towards physics and engineering. So calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra have always been the most emphasized, and for good reason – these are very important. Terence Tao

Talent is important, but how one develops and nurtures it is even more so. Terence Tao

When I was seven or eight, whenever I was getting too rowdy at night, my parents would give me a maths workbook to work on to quieten me down. Terence Tao

It was traditional to not actually cash the prizes that Erdos did award while he was alive. People usually framed the cheque instead. Terence Tao

I tend to change research direction every few years or so. Terence Tao

I am still very fond of Australia, but my life is now in Los Angeles. Terence Tao

I still remember the realization in college at Flinders University in Australia that mathematics was not just an abstract game of symbols but could be used as a tool to analyze and understand the modern world. Terence Tao

Math research is more like a marathon. Terence Tao

Research sometimes feels like an ongoing TV series in which some amazing revelations have already been made, but there are still plenty of cliff-hangers and unresolved plotlines that you want to see resolved. But unlike TV, we have to do the work ourselves to figure out what happens next. Terence Tao

Mathematicians are fairly cheap. Terence Tao

I think one nice thing about mathematics is that we don’t really have one prize that dominates all the others, like the Nobel prizes. Terence Tao