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Top Mathematicians Explain Beauty of Math

"Math is beautiful!" is the message conveyed by mathematicians at the third International Congress of Chinese Mathematicians (ICCM) held in Hong Kong from December 17 to December 22.


How to make the beauty of math to enter people's heart and to arouse students' interest in this discipline, so as to establish a strong fundament for the future of Chinese science?


The question was discussed at the ICCM, which provided a platform for mathematicians to share their opinions and experiences of dealing with math.


"I just can't leave math. I don't know what I can do other than math," said Lin Fanghua, winner of 2004 Chern Prize of the ICCM.


"I won't regret choosing math. Math is for everyone," said Xin Zhouping, winner of 2004 Morningside Gold Medal of Mathematics of the ICCM.


Professor of Harvard University Yau Shing-tung said the sincerity, kindness and beauty in Chinese culture was the same as that in math.


"That's the charisma of math!" From Yau's point of view, everything could be described by using math formulae in the nature.


The beauty of math was incarnated in application. "Through math, you can unveil the mystery of nature from a new angle and by using new methods, which is most attractive to me," Thomas Hau, 2004 Morningside gold medal of applied mathematics said.


Student of Fukien Secondary School Che Kong Sang got new realizations from a seminar of the ICCM, where 300 Hong Kong students were able to talk to 15 world-class mathematicians.


"I agreed with the mathematicians' idea that it was just like looking for a table-tennis rival when selecting math problems to solve," Che said.


"It would be meaningless to defeat a rival who is much weaker than you are. On the other way round, you may find it hard or even impossible to beat your rival if he is a tough one. You won't get reward in either cases," Che said.


Che realized that, to do well in math, one should choose problems that were close to his own level, rather than being too ambitious in looking for difficult challenges.


Students who attended the seminar expressed their delights in having such a chance to seek advice from top mathematicians who allowed them to experience a higher level of the charm of math.


So, can you tell one important element in doing math?


"Work hard." It was the answer given by Yau to the last question raised at the seminar to encourage students who wished to pursue their career or studies in mathematics.


The six-day ICCM, organized by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, closed Wednesday. The ICCM is a triennial event that brings together Chinese and overseas mathematicians for the discussion of the developments of mathematics.


It was initiated by Professor Yau Shing-Tung and is supported by the Morningside Group of Hong Kong. The first congress was held in Beijing in 1998 and the second was held in Taipei in 2001. The next congress will be held in Hangzhou.


(Xinhua News Agency December 23, 2004)


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