Hua Luogeng bigraphy, stories - Mathematicians

Hua Luogeng : biography

12 November 1910 - 12 June 1985

Hua Luogeng ( 12 November 1910 – 12 June 1985) was a Chinese mathematician famous for his important contributions to number theory and for his role as the leader of mathematics research and education in the People's Republic of China. He was largely responsible for identifying and nurturing the renowned mathematician Chen Jingrun who proved Chen's theorem, the best known result on the Goldbach conjecture. In addition, Hua's later work on mathematical optimization and operations research made an enormous impact on China's economy.

Hua did not receive a formal university education. Although awarded several honorary PhDs, he never got a formal degree from any university. In fact, his formal education only consisted of six years of primary school and three years of middle school. For that reason, Dr. Xiong Qinglai, after reading one of Hua's early papers, was amazed by Hua's mathematical talent, and in 1931 Xiong invited him to study mathematics at Tsinghua University. It is also for this reason that Hua has been referred to by some as the Ramanujan of China.

Biography

Early years (1910–1936)

Hua Luogeng was born in Jintan, Jiangsu on 12 November, 1910. Hua's father was a small businessman. Hua met a capable math teacher in middle school who recognized his talent early and encouraged him to read advanced texts. After middle school, Hua enrolled in Chinese Vocational College in Shanghai, and there he distinguished himself by winning a national abacus competition. Although tuition fees at the college were low, living costs proved too high for his means, and Hua was forced to leave a term before graduating. After failing to find a job in Shanghai, Hua returned home in 1927 to help in his father's store. In 1929, Hua contracted typhoid fever and was in bed for half a year. The culmination of Hua's illness resulted in the partial paralysis of his left leg, which impeded his movement quite severely for the rest of his life.

After middle school, Hua continued to study mathematics independently with the few books he had, and studied the entire high school and early undergraduate math curriculum. By the time Hua returned to Jintan, he was already engaged in independent mathematics research, and his first publication Some Researches on the Theorem of Sturm, appeared in the December 1929 issue of the Shanghai periodical Science. In the following year Hua showed in a short note in the same journal that a certain 1926 paper claiming to have solved the quintic was fundamentally flawed. Hua's lucid analysis caught the eye of Prof. Xiong Qinglai at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and in 1931 Hua was invited, despite his lack of formal qualification and not without some reservations on the part of several faculty members, to join the mathematics department there.

At Tsinghua, Hua began as a clerk in the library, and then moved to become an assistant in mathematics. By September 1932, he was an instructor, and two years later, after having published another dozen papers, he was promoted to the rank of lecturer.

During 1935–36 Jacques Hadamard and Norbert Wiener visited Tsinghua, and Hua eagerly attended the lectures of both and created a good impression. Wiener visited England soon afterward and spoke of Hua to G. H. Hardy. In this way Hua received an invitation to come to Cambridge, England, where he stayed for two years.

Early middle years (1936–1950)

While at Cambridge University, Hua worked on applying the Hardy–Littlewood circle method towards problems in number theory. He produced seminal work on Waring's problem, which would establish his fame within the international math community. In 1938, after the full outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, Hua chose to return to China to Tsinghua, where he was appointed full professor despite not having any degree. At the time, with vast areas of China under Japanese occupation, Tsinghua University, Peking University, and Nankai University had merged into the Southwest Associated University in Kunming, capital of the southern province Yunnan. In spite of the hardships of poverty, enemy bombings, and relative academic isolation from the rest of the world, Hua continued to produce first-rate mathematics. During his eight years there, Hua studied Vinogradov's seminal method of estimating trigonometric sums and reformulated it in sharper form, in what is now known universally as Vinogradov's mean value theorem. This famous result is central to improved versions of the Hilbert–Waring theorem, and has important applications to the study of the Riemann zeta function. Hua wrote up this work in a booklet titled Additive Theory of Prime Numbers that was accepted for publication in Russia as early as 1940, but owing to the war, did not appear in expanded form until 1947 as a monograph of the Steklov Institute. In the closing years of the Kunming period, Hua turned his interests to algebra and analysis towards which he soon began to make original contributions.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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