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Institute looking to grow its numbers

DEC . 17 2020
Peking University, December 17, 2020: "In the 1990s, many math students chose to work on Wall Street, but now they're more likely to devote themselves to research," says Tian Gang, a leading mathematician and director of Beijing International Center for Mathematical Research at Peking University.

Sponsored by the Chinese government, BICMR aims to promote pioneering mathematical research and education, and enhance exchanges and cooperation among Chinese and foreign mathematicians.

In 2005, Peking University designated seven quadrangle courtyard buildings to establish BICMR, hoping to build a tranquil haven for mathematicians to meander, think and look for the artistry and beauty in numbers.

White-boards and blackboards line the walls of every courtyard, to facilitate those eureka moments.

Administrative staff were carefully selected for the center. One of their duties is to help mathematicians avoid the distraction of paperwork and chores, from renting an apartment to arranging meetings and seminars.

"It's hard to say what is good about a math research institution," says Guan Qi'an, professor of the School of Mathematical Sciences, Peking University. "I just feel comfortable at BICMR. You don't get distracted or disturbed."

All the researchers at BICMR agree that the government has determined to strengthen China through science and technology, and the supportive policies will carry on for years.

On Dec 7, Premier Li Keqiang called for greater support in the development of basic disciplines, such as mathematics, to lay a solid foundation for innovation.

The premier pledged efforts to deepen reforms to streamline administrative approvals, delegate authority, improve regulations, and upgrade services to encourage scientists and researchers to be more creative and devoted to their work.

In 2012, Liu Ruochuan came to teach at the center after getting a PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completing postdoctoral research at Paris Diderot University (Paris 7).

"Basic science research is a luxury. A country can only advance basic science research with economic development," says Liu.

Liu has been giving undergraduates lectures, encouraging senior undergraduates to focus their major on basic mathematics research.

Peking University draws together the top mathematics talent and prodigies from across China. Liu enjoys the feeling that, every year, several promising students are challenging him.

Tian says China is still an emerging country in modern science research, and research institutions like BICMR still need time to attract more international students.

But this is changing as more Chinese mathematicians publish their studies in top mathematical journals like Annals of Mathematics and Acta Mathematica.

Meanwhile, more international students and researchers are choosing to study at BICMR.

"China is no doubt en route to becoming a country strong in math," he says.

Source: China Daily Global