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Yau Shing-tung Speaks on 150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard

Prof. Yau Shing-tung, Distinguished Professor-at-Large of CUHK, Wolf Prize laureate and Fields medalist, was invited to deliver a CUHK 50th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture titled ‘150 Years of Mathematics at Harvard’ on 23 December. The lecture drew an audience of over 300 academics, students, alumni, and members of the public.

In the 20th century, American mathematicians began to make critical advances in a field previously dominated by Europeans. Harvard University’s mathematics department was at the centre of these developments. Professor Yau, concurrently a mathematics professor at Harvard, gave a lively and accessible account of the pioneers who trailblazed a distinctly American tradition of mathematics, including Benjamin Peirce, Eliakim Hastings Moore and George David Birkhoff, their research journey, the heady mathematical concepts that emerged, and the people who shaped them, including Marston Morse, Hassler Whitney, Marshall Stone.

Over the past 150 years, the Mathematics Department at Harvard has developed into a world-class teaching and research centre of mathematics, nurturing a number of eminent mathematicians who inherited the tradition of the masters. Professor Yau believed that the commitment of the University to nurturing talent, generous support from society, the healthy competition among universities, the willingness of the leaders to accept new research direction and the rapport in the department—all these have contributed to the outstanding achievement of Harvard.

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