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In Memory of Chern
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CIM holds commemorative activities for the 110th anniversary of the birth of Professor Shiing-Shen Chern on October 28, 2021
2021-10-31 11:03

On October 28, 1911, Professor Shiing-Shen Chern was born in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province.

On October 28, 2021, the Chern Institute of Mathematics (CIM) held a series of commemorative activities in memory of the great mathematician.

8:30 a.m.

Laying flowers at the Memorial Tombstone

The Shiing-Shen Chern Memorial Tombstone stands in front of the Shiing-Shen Building, right beside the Weijin River. Underneath there buries part of the cremains of Prof. Shiing-Shen Chern and his wife Shih-Ning Cheng.

9:00 a.m.

To promote the spirit of the great master and support the development of mathematics discipline 

the Conference of Commemorating the 110th Anniversary of the Birth of Professor Shiing-Shen Chern

The Conference was hosted by the Vice Director of CIM Professor Huitao Feng. Attendees included Professor Jingjun Xu, executive vice president of Nankai University; Professor Mo-Lin Ge, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and professor at CIM; Professor Zixin Hou (online), former president of Nankai University; Professor Jing Su, secretary of the Party Committee of School of Mathematical Sciences, Nankai University; Professor Longyun Ding, dean of School of Mathematical Sciences and executive vice director of Center for Combinatorics, Nankai University; Professor Zhaojun Wang, executive dean of School of Statistics and Data Science, Nankai University; Professor Daoji Meng from School of Mathematical Sciences, Nankai University; Honghai Lv, former office director and assistant to director of CIM; and Qiongling Li, research fellow at CIM. Leaders, teachers and students of CIM, School of Mathematical Sciences, Center for Combinatorics and School of Statistics and Data Science of Nankai University were also present at the conference.

"As a member of Nankai University, Professor Chern always had the noble spirit of patriotism." said Professor Jingjun Xu, "We honor and commemorate the great master in hope of spreading his meritorious deeds and promoting his dedication to science and the country, in order to motivate all the teachers and students of Nankai University to keep making progress, racing to the top and making contribution to the development of mathematics discipline, the Double First-Class Construction and to the new beginning of Nankai University as it welcomes another new century."

Zixin Hou emphasized that Professor Shiing-Shen Chern had spent more than 30 years after returning back to China to move Chinese mathematics forward, especially by holding events such as Special Academic Year activities, the Conference on Prospect of Chinese Mathematics in the 21st Century, and the 2002 International Congress of Mathematicians. Professor Chern's effort had brought Nankai many outstanding talents and therefore greatly improved Nankai's mathematics. Professor Hou said compared with the development of mathematics disciplines of other domestic renowned universities, "We have to admit that we've lost our advantages. We must catch up and I sincerely hope the school can pay more attention on the  construction of mathematics and statistics disciplines and provide us more support."

Jing Su said, "Today we are commemorating Professor Shiing-Shen Chern for carrying forward his noble spirit of loving the country, his meticulous scholarship and his continuous exploration in scientific research. We shall spare no effort to carry on Professor Chern's work and promote his spirit, to dedicate ourselves to the country, as President Xi said while visiting Nankai University, to adhere to Nankai's academic tradition, 'Knowing China and Serving China', take on the mission of the great renewal of the Chinese nation, and devote ourselves to the cause of promoting the spirit of great masters and supporting the development of mathematics discipline. We will keep following the guideline proposed by Professor Chern: 'based at Nankai, serving the country, and embracing the world' and make Nankai's mathematics a first-class discipline."

Longyun Ding reviewed the fruitful results of Nankai's mathematics discipline achieved under the direction of Professor Shiing-Shen Chern, including the work of talents cultivation and the honours and awards. He said at the conference, "Professor Chern once said that he hoped to see China becomes a leading math nation in the 21st century. Now the task has been past to our generation. As mathematical scholars, we will take on the mission of constructing Nankai's mathematics as a world first-class discipline, and making great success in the new century. The spirit of Professor Chern will forever stimulate us to strive for excellence and scale the new heights of greatness."

Combining his personal views, Zhaojun Wang introduced Professor Chern's charms from three perspectives: the first one is Professor Chern's personality, "Many world-famous scientists, including mathematicians, physicists and scholars in other fields, have all been helped or guided by him."; secondly, Professor Chern had the long-term view which was reflected in his decisions of founding the Chern Institute of Mathematics, creating the Special Academic Year, pushing for the International Congress of Mathematicians being hosted by China, and bringing international and domestic high-end talents to Nankai's mathematics, etc.; the third one is Professor Chern's high-efficiency administrative management. Many of his work programs have been used ever since and keep benefiting the mathematics discipline.

Daoji Meng mentioned that Professor Chern had put forward the aim of making China a leading math nation as early as in the 1980s. And for fulfilling this aim, Professor Chern took a lot of measures including promoting overseas academic exchanges, holding international mathematical conferences, and establishing the Mathematics Special Class, etc. "It's a systematical scheme of cultivation that from undergraduates to high-end talents, however, the popularization of mathematics is essential in training excellent undergraduates." said Professor Daoji Meng, then he also mentioned the popularization activities that held by Professor Chern, such as the setting up of the math exhibition at Tianjin Science and Technology Museum and the design of "The Beauty of Mathematics" calendar.

Honghai Lv, as Professor Chern's colleague, shared three stories with the attendees. One is the story of Professor Chern visiting freshmen of CIM; one is about Professor Chern's high-efficiency administrative coordination; the third one tells of Professor Chern's principle of separating public from private interests. All of these stories had left on Mr. Lv deep impression.

Though having no contact with Professor Chern, Qiongling Li said she had been deeply influenced by him on her path of studying mathematics. Impressed by the efforts and dedication of Professor Chern and the older generations of mathematicians at Nankai University, Qiongling Li said, "We should carry forward their spirit. With our country's strong support on scientific research, now we can provide better learning conditions for our students." In her teaching, Qiongling Li found that the Nankai students are of many good qualities. At the end of her speech, she said, "Professor Chern will always be a great mentor to our Nankai people. We should keep our hope and our initial aspiration, and fight for the construction of Nankai mathematics in order to live up to the expectations of Professor Chern."

Xianzhe Li, as CIM's student, gave his speech at the conference, "From an academic perspective,we are all descendants of Professor Chern. It's never hard to find blackboards and chalks at the institute. And teachers here always welcome us to discuss with them or ask questions. It's a wonderful place for us to think and learn as the institute provides us a good environment. To follow Professor Chern's guidance, we shall do more, think hard, be brave to explore, and fight for realizing Professor Cherns conjecture."

Director of CIM Chengming Bai expressed thanks to all the attendees, and introduced in detail the commemorative activities for "The Year of Shiing-Shen Chern". "The commemorative activities may not last long." said Professor Bai, "But learning of Professor Chern's spirit and character shall last forever. Every member of CIM will keep following the great master's guidance and promoting his spirit. We all have the responsibility to support the development of Nankai's mathematics discipline, and to work together with mathematical scholars nationwide to advance the development of Chinese mathematics, in order to make China soon become a leading math nation."

The host of the conference Professor Huitao Feng then announced the successful conclusion of the conference.

10:20 a.m.

Watching the documentary Taking the Long View The Life of Shiing-Shen Chern

Taking the Long View: The Life of Shiing-Shen Chern (2010) examines the life of a remarkable mathematician whose formidable mathematical contributions were matched by an approach and vision that helped build bridges between China and the West.

                                                —— Source: the synopsis on Douban Movie

14:30 p.m.

Visiting CIM History Gallery & Ningyuan

Professor Huitao Feng of CIM introduced the institute's history with vivid words, and specially introduced in detail the background and influence of the 12 Special Academic Year and the Conference on Prospect of Chinese Mathematics in the 21st Century. Later all the teachers and students visited Ningyuan the former residence of Shiing-Shen Chern, to get to see the traces of Professor Chern's working and living at Nankai University.    

For some students, it was their first time to learn so much about CIM and the stories of the development history of Nankai's mathematics. They were deeply impressed by Professor Chern's personality reflected in his academic attainments, talent cultivation, as well as his knowledge and foresight. They said they will strive to carry forward Professor Cherns spirit and make contribution to the realization of the great missions: making China a leading math nation and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Some students were struck by the great achievements that Professor Chern and the older generations had made for Nankai's mathematics, also surprised by the meaningful activities held by CIM for promoting Professor Chern's spirit. They suggested to let more young people and the next generations to learn about the history so that it can be rooted in people's mind.

A child born in south of Yangtze River 110 years ago,

led the world in the field of geometry when he grew up.

We memorialize him, 110 years later, on the campus of Nankai University.

Today, we should not only appreciate the contribution made by Professor Chern and the older generations of mathematical scholars, and carry forward their spirit of fighting and life-long searching for scientific truth; but also combine knowledge and action to keep moving forward towards making China a leading math nation.

Let's work together, my friends!

Chern Institute of Mathematics, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071 China
Tel: 86-22-2350-1029, 86-22-2350-8228, Fax: 86-22-2350-8114, Email: cim@nankai.edu.cn
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