5 March 2017

‘Father of Hong Kong Mathematical Olympiad’ Receives International Mathematical Award and Shares Insights into Mathematical Education



Renowned as the ‘Father of Hong Kong Mathematical Olympiad’, Prof. Kar-Ping Shum recently received the Paul Erdös Award 2016, a highly esteemed international award in the mathematics academia, in recognition of his distinguished accomplishment in promoting mathematics education.  Professor Shum, a former Professor of Mathematics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), is the first academic in Hong Kong to receive the award.  Launched in 1959, the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the highest-level and largest global international mathematics competition for secondary school students.  Professor Shum established the IMO Hong Kong Committee in 1985 and for years led the Olympiad movement in Hong Kong where it has been well-received by the general public.

The award presentation ceremony took place on CUHK campus last Friday (3 March).  Prof. Peter Taylor, Executive Member of the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions and Emeritus Professor in the University of Canberra conferred the award on Professor Shum at the ceremony, and afterwards conducted a public lecture on ‘Challenging Mathematics in and beyond the Classroom’.  Officiating guests included Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK, Prof. Wai-yin Poon, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Henry N.C. Wong, Dean of the Faculty of Science, and Prof. Raymond Hon Fu Chan, Chairman of the Department of Mathematics.  The event was attended by over 150 guests. 

Prof. Kar-Ping Shum taught in the Department of Mathematics at CUHK from 1971 till 2007, and received an honorary doctoral degree from the Gomel, Russia in 2002.  He has been the honorary director of the Institute of Mathematics in Yunnan University since 2011. Professor Shum also served as the president of the Hong Kong Mathematical Society and Southern East Asian Mathematical Society for several terms.  In the past 30 years, Professor Shum has devoted himself passionately to the promotion of mathematics education and competition in Hong Kong and all over Southeast Asia.  He established the IMO Hong Kong Committee in 1985, and has been the president since then.  He led the Olympiad movement in Hong Kong and assisted the Hong Kong Mathematical Society in organising its first team to participate in the IMO held in Australia in 1988.

Professor Shum is a respected member of the academic community. He was the founding editor of Algebra Colloquium published by the Chinese Academy of Science, the Asian-European Journal of Mathematics published by the University of Potsdam, Germany and the newly founded Journal of Semigroup Theory and Applications published in London, UK.  He has published almost 400 journals about algebra over the years.  Professor Shum held the first Asian Mathematical Conference in CUHK in 1990.  It became an important serial event in the region, being held every five years in different Asian countries and receiving great support from the International Mathematical Union. In addition, Professor Shum held the first international algebra and mathematician conference in CUHK in August 1997, with about five hundred mathematicians from all over the world invited. Currently, the meeting is held every ten years. The second meeting in 2007 was held in Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 

Prof. Peter Taylor is an Emeritus Professor in the University of Canberra.  In 2015, he was appointed to the Order of Australia, for his ‘distinguished service to education, and to youth, particularly through the development of mathematical competitions and challenges for students, as an academic, and to professional learning associations’.  Professor Taylor has been actively promoting mathematical education in Australia.  Drawing on his experience in Canada and the US, he helped to lead Australia in conducting a mathematics competition in Canberra in 1976. Over time, it expanded nationally, leading to the mathematical potential of a lot of students being realised.  Together with Prof. Ed Barbeau of the University of Toronto, in 2002 Professor Taylor was appointed by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction to conduct the 16th Study, titled ‘Challenging Mathematics in and beyond the Classroom’, to study the inter-relation between competitions and the normal education system, and the challenges of mathematical education within and beyond classrooms. The study was completed in 2009 and eight papers were published from 45 authors.

Professor Taylor also participated in the curriculum development of mathematics.  He chaired the Australia Mathematical Sciences Institute’s Education Advisory Committee and oversaw the planning and execution of seminal workshops on ‘Teacher Content Knowledge and Materials for Schools’.  He was appointed as the executive director of the Australian Mathematics Trust by the Australian government.  He is also an executive member of the International Group for Mathematical Creativity and Giftedness and the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions, both of which are study groups affiliated with the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction.

Prof. Kar-Ping Shum, former Professor of Mathematics at CUHK (left) and Prof. Peter Taylor, Executive Member of the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions.
Prof. Kar-Ping Shum, former Professor of Mathematics at CUHK (left) and Prof. Peter Taylor, Executive Member of the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions.

Prof. Peter Taylor (right) presents the Paul Erdös Award 2016 to Prof. Kar-Ping Shum.
Prof. Peter Taylor (right) presents the Paul Erdös Award 2016 to Prof. Kar-Ping Shum.

Prof. Kar-Ping Shum and Prof. Peter Taylor pose for a group photo with guests.
Prof. Kar-Ping Shum and Prof. Peter Taylor pose for a group photo with guests.

Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK delivers a welcoming speech.
Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK delivers a welcoming speech.

Prof.  Kar-Ping Shum delivers a speech.
Prof. Kar-Ping Shum delivers a speech.

Prof. Peter Taylor gives a public lecture on ‘Challenging Mathematics in and beyond the Classroom’.
Prof. Peter Taylor gives a public lecture on ‘Challenging Mathematics in and beyond the Classroom’.