15 July 2018

CUHK Prof. Yau Shing-tung Receives the Prestigious Marcel Grossmann Award

Prof. Yau Shing-tung, Distinguished Professor-at-Large and Director of The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMS) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has been honoured with the Marcel Grossmann Award in recognition of his achievement “for the proof of the positivity of total mass in the theory of general relativity and perfecting as well the concept of quasi-local mass, for his proof of the Calabi conjecture, for his continuous inspiring role in the study of black holes physics”.  Prof. Yau is the first Chinese mathematician to receive this honour.  The Award was presented at the 15th Marcel Grossmann Meeting in Rome, Italy recently.  Other Chinese scholars who have received this award include physicists Prof. Lee Tsung-dao and Prof. Yang Chen-ning.    

Prof. Yau said, “I feel deeply honoured to be selected for the Award.  The Award is a recognition of my research studies. As a scientist, I very much hope my research can not only help solve long standing questions, but lead in the advancement of the world and explore the future.”

As one of the most influential mathematician in the world, Prof. Yau made fundamental contributions to differential geometry which have influenced a wide range of scientific disciplines, including astronomy and theoretical physics.  He solved a long standing question in general relativity by providing that the combined total energy of matter and gravitational field in an asymptotically flat universe is positive.  He also proved the Calabi conjecture, which allowed physicists to show that string theory is a viable candidate for a unified theory of nature. He also introduced the concept of “quasi-local mass” in general relativity, which can be of help in getting around the conundrum – the non-locality of the energy density in relativistic gravity.  Moreover, Prof. Yau has also established the “Black Hole Initiative”, an interdisciplinary centre at Harvard University involving collaborations with top researchers from the fields of astronomy, physics and philosophy.  The “Black Hole Initiative” is the world’s first centre to focus on the study of the many facets of black holes.

Prof. Yau is Distinguished Professor-at-Large and Director of The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMS) at CUHK, as well as William Casper Graustein Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University.  He is a distinguished alumnus and has been a dear friend of CUHK for 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 had taught at the Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton, Stanford University, Stony Brook University, and the University of California, San Diego. He has been a faculty member at Harvard since 1987.  In 1993, Prof. Yau Shing-tung returned to his alma mater and initiated the establishment of IMS, where he served as Director to lead researches, while at the same time contributing 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).  In 2010, Prof. Yau received the Wolf Prize in Mathematics in recognition of his lifetime contribution to geometric analysis and his enormous impact on many areas of geometry and physics.

New Zealand physicist Roy Kerr (right) presented the Marcel Grossmann Award to Prof. Yau Shing-tung.
New Zealand physicist Roy Kerr (right) presented the Marcel Grossmann Award to Prof. Yau Shing-tung.