ICCM: Mathematicians stress the need for cooperation in basic science
By Zhao Yuheng
The 8th International Congress of Chinese Mathematicians (ICCM) has kicked off in Tsinghua University, one of China's top universities, in Beijing on June 9.
Awards were given out in the opening ceremony of the six-day event to outstanding mathematicians for their research as well as for promoting international cooperation in the field of mathematics.
"In the selecting process, we picked mathematicians whose work is going to have a long-lasting influence in the world of mathematics," said Shing-Tung Yau, chairman and co-founder of the Congress.
Mathematics, as basic science, is often obscure and seems remote from people's daily life. However, Yau, at the opening of this year's Congress, stressed the importance of basic science.
"Mathematics is the foundation of all sciences. All the top research institutes, such as Caltech or MIT, have a strong mathematics department," Yau said.
"Mathematicians should follow their curiosity in uncovering the law of nature and the universe. They should not be distracted by how math can be applied or make money in their research in the pursuit of pure mathematics."
China's State Council issued policies to pump up basic science research in the country in early 2018. However, Yau has his concerns.
"Local governments and institutes are more interested in how the research can be applied. But how pure mathematical research can be applied is often random and unpredictable," said Yau.
"Government should push for more substantial measure to pump up pure mathematical research."
Scholars also call for international academic cooperation, as the trade tensions between China and the United States are spreading to the world of science and technology.
Chinese students are reportedly facing stricter visa policy when trying to pursue study in the United States.
"As a mathematician, one pretty much is blind with national distinction. We should only focus on a student's talent and his or her willingness to pursue mathematical study," said Vaughn Jones, winner of this year's award for international cooperation.
The ICCM is one of the top events for mathematicians of Chinese descent and is held every three years. Awards including the ICCM awards, Chern Prize, and International Cooperation Awards are given out to mathematicians with outstanding contribution in the field of mathematics.