New York University professor Subhash Khot has worked at the cutting edge of what cannot be done with computers since 2001 when, in his third year of graduate school at Princeton University, he formulated the groundbreaking Unique Games Conjecture (UGC). This seemingly simple statement—about the difficulty of solving a specific problem—turned out to have profound implications for the field. Khot has since received some of its highest honors, including the National Science Foundation's Alan T. Waterman Award, the International Mathematical Union's Rolf Nevanlinna Prize, and, most recently, the MacArthur Fellowship. Here, he recalls how it happened.
Let's talk about your background. You grew up in India, and I understand you chose to study computer science without having seen a computer.
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