Person: Jingrun, Chen
Chen Jingrun was a Chinese mathematician who made outstanding advances in the study of Goldbach's Conjecture, proving that every sufficiently large integer can be represented as the sum of a prime and the product of at most two primes.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- When Chen Jingrun was four years old, in July 1937, the Second Chino-Japanese War broke out.
- Shen Yuan had, like Chen Jingrun, been born in Fuzhou, Fujian province and had studied at Fuzhou Yinghua Senior High School.
- One day he was teaching the class which Chen Jingrun attended and told them about Goldbach's Conjecture.
- Shen Yuan jokingly said to the class that perhaps one day one of them would solve Goldbach's Conjecture and all the pupils laughed except Chen Jingrun.
- Chen Jingrun graduated from the Fuzhou Yinghua Senior High School in 1949 and later that year entered the Mathematics and Physics Department of Xiamen University.
- When Wang Yanan, the president of Xiamen University, learnt what had happened to Chen Jingrun he was surprised given his outstanding undergraduate performance.
- Chen brought several pages of Hua Loogeng's book "Additive Prime Number Theory" and studied it even in the shelter.
- Chen succeeded in using the method in Chapter 5 to improve some results in Chapter 4 of Hua's book.
- Hua was confident in that Chen has high talent in mathematics after Chen's paper was approved by some mathematicians in the number theory section of the Institute of Mathematics, Academia Sinica.
- Hua Loogeng asked Chen Jingrun to present his results on Tarry's problem to the meeting of the Chinese Mathematical Society in Xiamen University in August 1956.
- At this meeting Hua Loogeng and Chen Jingrun met in person for the first time and, recognising his remarkable talents, Hua recommended Chen Jingrun for the position of assistant at the Institute of Mathematics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
- Chen Jingrun's output now became quite remarkable and he had eleven papers published in the two years 1964-1965.
- He showed the proof to a colleague Min Shie who suggested that, as the result was an important breakthrough in attacking the Goldbach conjecture, Chen Jingrun should announce the result and then tidy up the proof before publishing the details.
- The timing proved extremely unfortunate since the announcement of Chen Jingrun's theorem coincided with the Cultural Revolution which was launched by Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, in May 1966 with the aim of ending any opposition to Communism.
- Chen was frequently insulted, spat on, and beaten.
- The attacks were often so severe that Chen would lose consciousness.
- Amazingly, even under these horrible conditions, Chen kept working on his mathematical interests.
- As more obvious and expedient targets for the Red Guards emerged, Chen was fortunately left alone and was able to secretly resume his studies, working by kerosene lamp because he was provided no electricity.
- Chen subsequently became chronically sick; the horrors of his life were having severe physical effects on him ...
- Chen Jingrun returned to working on publishing the proof of his major contribution to the Goldbach Conjecture which he had announced in 1966.
- Chen Jingrun told him that he had completed the proof and wanted to publish it but was afraid of being criticised.
- Luo Shengxiong said that provided the proof was correct, Chen Jingrun should not be afraid.
- Luo Shengxiong asked a military representative to persuade Chen Jingrun to publish and told him he had nothing to fear.
- First Vice Premier Zhou Enlai had told the Chinese Academy of Sciences to strengthen research and a meeting of the Academy took place at which the head of the Academy spoke of the importance of Chen Jingrun's theorem.
- Some members objected to Chen Jingrun's work, saying it was not in line with the aims of the Cultural Revolution.
- Despite opposition, the Chinese Academy of Sciences supported publication of Chen Jingrun's paper proving that every large even integer can be represented as the sum of a prime and the product of at most two primes.
- Heine Halberstam and Hans Egon Richert were in the process of having their book Sieve Methods printed when they became aware of Chen Jingrun theorem.
- In addition to achieving fame, Chen inspired many students to study science.
- The Consultative Committee took advice from panels of the various sections on who should be invited and the Number Theory Section panel recommended Chen Jingrun be invited.
- As we have seen, Chen Jingrun's health was poor even before he was hospitalised in 1973.
- Looking around quietly, Chen Jingrun didn't say anything, but smiled at everyone.
- You Kun was a 22-year old doctor studying at the hospital, and after she had met Chen Jingrun and they had got on well together, she was assigned to Chen Jingrun's ward as the doctor on duty.
- They became close friends and after Chen Jingrun left the hospital the two continued to communicate.
- Eventually Chen Jingrun, who had previously found talking to women difficult, asked her to marry him.
- In April 1984 Chen Jingrun, who was working at the Mathematical Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, cycled from his home to the Xinhua Bookshop.
- In 1999 China issued a commemorative 80-yuan stamp "The Best Result of Goldbach Conjecture" with a silhouette of Chen Jingrun.
- On 19 September 2020 China issued a "Chen Jingrun, Mathematician" 1.20 renminbi yuan stamp with his portrait.
- The Minor Planet Center, part of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, named asteroid 7681 Chenjingrun after him.
- In 2006, Xiamen University erected a seated bronze statue of Chen Jingrun near its School of Mathematical Sciences.
- The Chinese Academy of Sciences presents the Chen Jingrun Award for Young Talents.
Born 22 May 1933, Fuzhou, Fujian province, China. Died 19 March 1996, Beijing, China.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive