Fields Medal winner Efim Zelmanov: Hope more talents join the SUSTec
Wang Siwen

The Fifth World Laureates Forum has gathered the world's brightest in Shanghai. More than 60 top scientists from over 20 countries and regions, including 27 Nobel Prize laureates, will attend the forum online and offline till next Monday.

CGTN's reporter Wang Siwen had an interview with Efim Zelmanov, the 1994 Fields Medal winner and chair professorship of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in Shenzhen City, south China's Guangdong Province.

Efim Zelmanov received the Fields Medal, which is awarded by the International Congress of Mathematicians to recognize outstanding mathematical achievement, for the solution of the restricted Burnside problem, one of the oldest questions in finite group theory posed in 1902.

Zelmanov established the International Center for Mathematics at the SUSTech in 2019 and joined the university as a full time chair professorship since this September.

The following is full text of the dialogue.

CGTN: You were awarded the Fields Medal in 1994, which is the highest medal in mathematics. What challenges have you faced personally and in your scientific research?

Zelmanov: Mathematics is full of difficult problems and mathematicians think about these problems day and night. Now I think about a number of problems, that is my joy and my "problems." When watching a movie, when listening to music, when talking to people, in the back of my mind, there was always this problem. In 99.99 percent cases, you are not successful or you make little success. But you'll keep thinking, that's almost what all mathematicians do.

CGTN: How has the International Center for Mathematics developed since its development?

Zelmanov: We established the center, the SUSTech International Center for Mathematics. The last three years were not good for international centers, as you know, but still they managed to hire mathematicians from the United States, Brazil and China. More top-class mathematicians work there part-time and we hope that some of them may decide to join the SUSTech. The administration of the university and city government is extremely supportive. I hope they will be supportive for another 10 years at least. So we hope to establish this place on the world mathematical map, we will have conferences, we will recruit more talents.

We hope that after the pandemic is over, we will finally start working full-scale on what we plan to do, what we are supposed to do – establishing international cooperation, having conferences and inviting people – make it an international hub as it was planned.

Nowadays, education and the science-based research are very important for sustained development. After the Second World War, California entered the competition and started to develop very rapidly. And the government of California helped a lot to establish top-class world universities. And now look at the GDP of California; it's mostly high-tech. So a top-class technological hub needs top-class universities. They cannot be separated from each other, so that's what we are working on.

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