On the afternoon of December 21, 2016, Academician Zhang Gongqing from Peking University (PKU) was invited to SUSTech Lecture to give a lecture entitled “Value of Mathematics” at the No. 110 lecture hall of the library of Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech). Tang Tao, Vice President of SUSTech, presided over the lecture.
Zhang is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Third World Academy of Sciences (currently Academy of Sciences for the Developing World). He was formerly Director of the Mathematical Research Institute and the Key Laboratory of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, PKU, as well as Council Chairman of the Chinese Mathematical Society. In 1994, he was invited to give a 45-minute lecture at the International Congress of Mathematicians. He is devoted to teaching and has made a great contribution to mathematical education.
In his lecture, Zhang enumerated many mathematical cases in life, stressing that “mathematics is useful”. He referred to mathematics as a scientific language, and highly agreed to Goethe’s saying, “Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them they translate into their own language”; as a tool for research, design and management, mathematics helps solve physical and mechanical problems; mathematics is the core of high and new technologies, mobile phone, video and aerospace are all supported by mathematical principles. He also noted that mathematics is the core of the rational culture of modern people. Based on the historical development of the view of nature and view of science, he elaborated on the value of mathematics, further probing into mathematics and why mathematics is useful.
Then Zhang enumerated a lot of mathematical formulas and principles, noting that mathematics is not only a tool and an application, but also an organic whole. He also analyzed the relations between pure mathematics and applied mathematics: the two are mutually exclusive and complementary, and we should not only analyze abstract pure mathematical problems, but also study the outside world and solve practical problems with mathematical knowledge. He noted that mathematics is the treasure house of human wisdom. “To build China into an innovative country, we must be innovative in science and technology. Abundant mathematical treasure is always inexhaustible resources. “This is the greatest value of mathematics!” he added.
Zhang finished his lecture citing Hua Luogeng’s article entitled “Wide Application of Mathematics”. In the Q&A session, the audience vied to raise questions. The two-hour lecture offered the audience further knowledge of the value of mathematics and made them experience the charm of mathematics.
Photo ByWu Bingzhen