CUHK Celebrates Prof. Yau Shing-tung Being Named Wolf Prize Laureate
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) hosted a celebration today (28 April) in honour of Prof. Yau Shing-tung’s being awarded the 2010 Wolf Prize in Mathematics. A world renowned mathematician, Professor Yau is Distinguished Professor-at-Large and Director of the Institute of Mathematical Science (IMS) at CUHK, as well as William Casper Graustein Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University. CUHK Vice-Chancellor Prof. Lawrence J. Lau and about a hundred CUHK staff and students joined this joyous occasion. Students of Professor Yau also took the opportunity to express their gratitude to him.
Prof. Lawrence J. Lau congratulated Professor Yau on his unparalleled achievements. ‘A mathematics giant, Professor Yau is renowned for his enormous creativity, which makes him the first Chinese scholar to have attained two highest honours in the mathematics arena – the Fields Medal and the Wolf Prize in Mathematics. Following the footsteps of his teacher Prof. Chern Shiing-shen, the late geometry great, Professor Yau is the second Chinese to be awarded the Wolf Prize. We at the Chinese University are all very proud and privileged to share his joy today.’ While the Fields Medal, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematics, is presented to young scholars aged below 40, the Wolf Prize recognizes lifelong contributions in a discipline.
Prof. Lau Ka-sing, chairman of the Department of Mathematics, thanked Professor Yau for his significant contributions to the Department and IMS over the years, ‘It’s most fitting for Professor Yau to receive the Wolf Prize. A far-sighted and conscientious scholar in his pursuit for academic excellence, Professor Yau has inspired us to aim for the highest standards in our research. He is our perfect role model. Established by Professor Yau, the IMS has gained international recognition and is growing hand in hand with the Mathematics Department.’
A towering figure in mathematics over the past quarter century, as described by prominent mathematician Simon Donaldson, Professor Yau has provided solutions to various important conjectures, such as the Calabi Conjecture, positive mass conjecture, Minkowski problem, mirror conjecture, and that the existence of a special metric on a Kahler manifold is equivalent to the stability of its tangent bundle. The Calabi-Yau manifolds, named after him and Calabi, have now become a cornerstone of mathematics and theoretical physics. He has also successfully linked partial differential equations, geometry, and mathematical physics in a fundamentally new way, decisively shaping the field of geometric analysis. In recognition of ‘his work in geometric analysis that has had a profound and dramatic impact on many areas of geometry and physics,’ Professor Yau will receive the 2010 Wolf Prize jointly with Prof. Dennis Sullivan of the Stony Brook University, New York.
Professor Yau thanked the Chinese University for the celebration party. He also encouraged fellow students to be innovative and to work hard in research. ‘I will continue to contribute my best to Hong Kong. I also hope to join hands with the academia and students to work for a better future of Hong Kong and our motherland.’
Besides his work in mathematics, Professor Yau has also contributed greatly to physics. He has been exceptionally productive over several decades, with results radiating into many areas of pure and applied mathematics and theoretical physics. In addition to his diverse and fundamental mathematical achievements, which have inspired generations of mathematicians, Professor Yau has also had an enormous impact worldwide on mathematical research, through training an extraordinary number of graduate students and establishing several active mathematical research centers.
Professor Yau is a distinguished alumnus and dear friend of CUHK for about half a century. He graduated from the Department of Mathematics, Chung Chi College, CUHK in 1969, and was conferred the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, by the University in 1980. He was admitted to the University of California, Berkeley in 1969, where he received his PhD degree two years later under the supervision of Prof. Chern Shiing-shen. He taught at the Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton, Stanford University, Stony Brook University, and University of California, San Diego. He has been a faculty member at Harvard since 1987. In 1993, Professor Yau joined his alma mater and initiated the establishment of IMS, where he served as Director to lead researches, while at the same time contribute to teaching and coaching postgraduates. In his 40-year career in mathematics, he has received numerous awards and honours. These include the Fields Medal in 1982, the Veblen Prize in Geometry (1981), the MacArthur Fellowship (1985), the Crafoord Prize (1994) and the US National Medal of Science (1997).
The Wolf Prizes, of US$100,000 in each field, have been awarded since 1978 to outstanding scientists and artists, for achievements in the interest of mankind and of friendly relations among peoples, irrespective of nationality, race, colour, religion, sex or political view. This year, the awarded fields are agriculture, mathematics, medicine, physics, and the arts (architecture). The awards will be presented to the Laureates by the President of the State of Israel in Jerusalem on 13 May.