Feb. 13 memorial for beloved mathematics Professor Shiing-Shen Chern
08 February 2005
ATTENTION: Obituary Desks
By Robert Sanders, Media Relations
Memorial service for University of California, Berkeley, mathematician Shiing-Shen Chern, who died Dec. 3 in China at the age of 93.
2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 13
Pauley Ballroom, Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, UC Berkeley
Speakers will include:
* Robert Birgeneau, UC Berkeley chancellor
* Peng Keyu, Chinese consul general, San Francisco
* Theodore Slaman, professor and chair, UC Berkeley Department of Mathematics
* David Eisenbud, director, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute
* Isadore Singer, professor of mathematics, MIT
* Robert Uomini, software developer and former student of Chern's
* Jim Simons, president, Renaissance Technologies, and contributor to MSRI
* Calvin Moore, Hung-Hsi Wu and Alan Weinstein, UC Berkeley math professors
Chern's daughter and son, May Chu and Paul Chern, also will be in attendance.
Already a well-known mathematician when he joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1960, Chern was famous for his generosity and kindness. Students loved him, and one, Robert Uomini, later endowed a professorship in his name after winning the California lottery. After Chern's retirement from UC Berkeley in 1979, he went on to co-found and serve as first director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), the largest and most prominent math institute in the world.
Chern also was a generous donor to MSRI. A major gift from Chern sparked MSRI's successful recent campaign to expand its building, and when he was honored last year with Hong Kong's $1 million Shaw Prize for Mathematics, he gave MSRI another large gift from the proceeds. The UC Berkeley building housing the institute he directed from 1981 until 1984 will be named Chern Hall upon the completion of a new addition in late 2005.
Chern is considered one of the greatest geometers of the 20th century, having resurrected the field of differential geometry, which deals with the mathematical description of geometric figures. He turned it into a vibrant area of study delving into the geometry of many dimensions and merging ultimately with the study of algebraic geometry and topology. Today, the fields on which he had the greatest impact -- global differential geometry and complex algebraic geometry -- are fundamental to many areas of mathematics and theoretical physics.