Math genius tells readers to find faith in family
Updated : 09/01/2012 11:26 GMT + 7
Over 100 questions were sent to Tuoi Tre yesterday morning during an online chat between famed mathematician Ngo Bao Chau, writer Nguyen Phuong Van and our readers.
The professor shared with readers his experience in learning mathematics and reading books, as well as tales about his life.
Chau is a math professor at the University of Chicago. He became famous after winning the Fields medal in 2010 – equivalent to a Nobel prize in math for proving the fundamental lemma for automorphic forms proposed by Robert Langlands and Diana Shelstad.
Meanwhile, Van is co-writer - with professor Chau - of the book “Ai va Ky o xu so cua nhung con so tang hinh” (Ai and Ky in the Land of the Invisible Numbers). The book is considered the first “math-fiction” release in Vietnam.
Professor Chau admitted his most difficult time was when he completed his Phd thesis.
“Some of the results I made were not appreciated. But I learned many things: one is to continuously study, two is to be steadfast in my plans”.
Asked how he solved a difficult math problem, the professor said he always thought of the problem even when he was doing something else.
“That s the reason why some mathematicians are absent-minded… I think about it intensely but not for long. Few people can concentrate for long periods of time. I don’t have that skill”.
When asked how to find faith after losing it, he made a heartfelt reply that he turned to his family for support and to have faith at dark moments.
Regarding current math textbooks, Chau said the important thing is how math is taught by the teachers.
As for in-service training in Vietnam, the scientist opined that such training is distorted as the students enroll not to learn new knowledge but to earn diplomas to legalize their positions at state agencies.
But he concluded “to judge a person is very difficult, not simply through certain certificates”.
He also confides that many young scientists in Vietnam today waste their time and energy due to cumbersome administrative procedures. He criticized the widely-seen phenomena at state universities that see young lecturers doing menial jobs.
“Don’t send young lecturers and scientists on small errands”, the prize-winning professor told Tuoi Tre readers.