Petar Stoyanov Kenderov, Bulgaria

Posted Monday 17 March 2014

[Petar Kenderov]

Petar Kendarov receives his Award at Hamburg on 30 July 2016 from Prof. Dr. Gabriele Kaiser, ICME-13 Convenor. WFNMC President Prof. Alexander Soifer is third from left and Chair of Awards Committee Prof. Maria de Losada is at right.


As chair of the National Commission for Competitions in Mathematics (1976-1988), appointed by the Ministry of Education, Petar Kenderov designed and implemented the base of the current Bulgarian system for identifying, motivating and developing young mathematical talents as well as for work with their teachers. This was a period when several new competitions, in mathematics, in informatics and in mathematical linguistics, were initiated so that students with different interests and talent could be identified and nurtured. The team in charge of the design and the scientific support of these competitions was supervised by Petar Kenderov.

In the period 1982-1990, as vice president of the Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians (UBM) responsible for the out-of-class work with students, he involved the nation-wide network of this non-governmental organization to work with talented young students, attracted many leading Bulgarian scientists to this work, and found significant social resources to support this effort.

In 1987, in connection with the international conference Children in the Information Age held in Sofia, Bulgaria, he organized the first international contest in informatics for secondary school students. In 1989 Kenderov was one of the masterminds behind the establishment of the first International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). He chaired the International Jury and was the major driving force behind the organization of the competition. In 2003 he was on the organizing committee of the first International Olympiad in Linguistics, which was founded in Bulgaria and which was also a product of the system of motivating young talent through contests. Both Olympiads are annual events now, attracting young people from all over the world.

In 2000 Kenderov devised the High School Students’ Institute of Mathematics and Informatics whose mission is to identify, nurture and support the development of young talent with a natural inclination towards research in mathematics and informatics. This institution has had excellent results in training high-ability students in their chosen fields.

Yet for Kenderov the contests are not a goal in themselves. Rather, they are a tool for improving educations, extend it beyond the classroom, find talented students and attract them to science. His motivation was made clear in his invited lecture at the Section Mathematics Education and Popularization of Mathematics of the International Congress of Mathematicians in Spain (2006). Unlike other natural resources, such as mineral deposits, which remain preserved for future generations if undiscovered and unused, the talent of a young person is lost forever if it is not identified, cultivated and employed.

In 2003 he initiated the international conference Give Talent a Chance which was hosted by the International Foundation St. Cyril and St. Methodius and was attended by experts from Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Romania, Serbia and United States. The conference contributed to the formation and consolidation of the Mathematics Society of South Eastern Europe (MASSEE). As a result of it a European project (MATHEU) was initiated with the aim to improve the work with talented school students in the European Union.

As one of the co-founders of MASSEE, Kenderov organized a special section on Attracting Talent to Science at the first meeting of the organization (Bulgaria, 2003).

As chief coordinator of the project Identification and development of abilities and talents in the field of mathematics and informatics, financed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2007, he promoted the notion that the attraction of able and talented youths to careers in research, IT and innovation constitutes a critical step in the realization of the Lisbon strategy for achieving a competitive, knowledge-based economy for the European Union.

Kenderov was active in setting up a center for excellence in South Eastern Europe for the applications of mathematics within the programme for academic reconstruction of the region. The project was financed by DAAD, the German programme for academic exchange. Originally started in 2000 to run for three years, the programme has been so successful that its financing has been extended year after year and is still running in 2014.

His activities and achievements in the field of mathematics education, and particularly in the work with young talents, have won international recognition. He was Vice President (8 years) and President (4 years) of the World Federation of Mathematics Competitions and a member of the Executive Committee of the International Commission on Mathematics Instruction of the International Mathematical Union.

Petar Kenderov also understands the importance of work with teachers. Upon his initiative in 2002, the Union of Bulgarian Mathematicians and the International Foundation St. Cyril and St. Methodius established a joint award for teachers with the best results for identifying and developing talent. Each year this award is given to a teacher in mathematics and a teacher in informatics. Since 2009, as coordinator for Bulgaria, Kenderov has been involved in European projects for promoting and disseminating Inquiry-Based Mathematics and Science Education. Petar Kenderov has been quoted as saying that The most important application of science is in education.

His lectures and seminars at Sofia University, the New Bulgarian University, the International University of Sofia, and the University of Bayreuth (Germany) have been greatly admired by his students and colleagues. He has supervised many MSc and PhD students, more than 20 of whom have already received their degrees.

His research results in the fields of Topology, Functional Analysis and Convex Analysis, Optimization comprise about 100 articles published in specialized mathematical journals. He has also invested much effort into popularizing mathematics – more than 30 papers and lectures on mathematics and mathematics competitions in national and international journals and fora.

Petar Kenderov has also received the following major recognitions:

  • Award for Young Researchers of the Balkan Mathematical Union (1973)
  • Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany (1978-79)
  • Mathematical Award Nicola Obreshkov of the University of Sofia and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1982)
  • Membership in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1995)
  • Doctor Honoris Causa from four universities (Plovidiv, Bulgaria (2000), Baia Mare, Romania (2003), Rouse, Bulgaria (2010) and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria (2013)
  • Mathematics Competitions: Who Wins?, an invited lecture at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Madrid, 2006
  • CEE Achievement Medal for Leadership and Commitment to Excellence in Education

Petar Kenderov has played a significant role in the development of mathematical challenges worldwide and hence the World Federation of Mathematics Competitions, WFNMC, is proud to recognize him with the Paul Erdös Award 2014.