Chau Bao Ngo was born in 1972, the only son of an intellectual family in Hanoi, North Vietnam.
The beginning of Châu's schooling was at an experimental elementary school that had been founded by the revolutionary pedagogue Hồ Ngọc Đại,
but when his father returned from the Soviet Union with his doctoral degree, he decided that Châu would learn more in traditional schools and enrolled
him in the "chuyên toán" (special classes for gifted students in mathematics) at the Trưng Vương Middle School.
At age 15, Châu entered the special mathematics class at the High School for Gifted Students,
Hanoi University of Science (Khối chuyên Tổng Hợp – Đại học Khoa Học Tự Nhiên Hà Nội), formerly known as the A0-class.
In grades 11 and 12, Châu participated in the 29th and 30th International Mathematical Olympiads (IMO) and became the first Vietnamese student to win two IMO gold medals,
of which the first one was won with a perfect score (42/42).
After high school, Châu expected to study in Budapest, but in the aftermath of the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe,
the new Hungarian government halted scholarships to students from Vietnam.
After visiting Châu's father, Paul Germain, secretary of the French Academy of Sciences,
arranged for Châu to study in France. He was offered a scholarship by the French government for undergraduate study at the Paris VI University,
then in 1992, he entered the École Normale Supérieure.
He obtained a PhD in 1997 from the Universite Paris-Sud under the supervision of Gérard Laumon.
He became a member of CNRS at Paris 13 University from 1998 to 2005, and defended his habilitation degree there in 2003.
He holds both Vietnamese and French citizenship.
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