Control is hopeless分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/controlhopeless I just wonder how things are put together and then what happens

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钟开莱轶事(7)

已有 1864 次阅读 2020-6-10 14:06 |个人分类:历史在说|系统分类:人物纪事

博主按:从大学开始读传记,印象最深的就是《希尔伯特》和《一个美国天才——回旋加速器之父劳伦斯传》,第一本大概是通读了,作者康斯坦丝·瑞德将此书写的充满了正能量,例如希尔伯特乐观主义的“我们必须知道,我们必将知道”,以及令人难以忘怀的数学家希尔伯特、闵可夫斯基、赫维茨之间的友谊。后来瑞德回忆说,这书大概只有在她年轻时才写得出来(可能的意思是说知道太多以后,就不敢写了,也写不出哪些内容了)。后一本太厚了,只记得物理学家常常业余时间打网球,那里的物理学家远离我的专业,而第一本的那些数学家可以在教科书里发现,比如希尔伯特空间、闵可夫斯基不等式、赫维茨稳定性判据。这两本书都为年轻人建立一个梦想的学术世界。

因为后来我有机会学得概率论的一些皮毛,概率论学者钟开莱的几本书大致是翻过,对钟开莱的故事有兴趣,开始是读徐利治的口述自传,在那里钟开莱是傲上的。不可思议的是,在澳洲读博,居然参考文献还有钟开莱的那本《概率论教程》,在建立俺的结果时,此书中的概率论基本定理和事实被引用了四次。

以上是当时年轻的、还算不老的博主的读书及人生体验。但是一个“穷途末路”,没有未来,向死而生的人再读数学家的传记时,感受是“大不如从前”了,特别是读了丘成桐的最新传记部分内容后,除了感受丘的天才与机遇,最大的伤感是一个那么有才华的数学家居然有那么多你、我这样普通人才能遇到的闹心的“烂事”。

以下是丘成桐传记《The Shape of a Life》记载的钟开莱眼中的华罗庚、陈省身以及丘成桐对钟开莱的评价(91-92页)。

在1973年6月后,在斯坦福大学数学系,24岁的丘成桐遇到了56岁的钟开莱。中文翻译来自百度和谷歌。

I also spent a fair amount of time with Kai Lai Chung, an expert in probability theory who was born in Shanghai. Chung, who was about thirty years older than me, liked to take walks in Palo Alto’s parks. I joined him on a number of strolls, during which he liked to recount stories and anecdotes about older mathematicians like Chern and Hua between whom a famous rivalry had developed. I was a highly receptive audience, so we made a good pair.

我还和出生在上海的概率论专家钟开莱一起度过了相当长的时间。钟比我年长大约三十岁,喜欢在帕洛阿尔托的公园散步。我和他一起散步,在散步期间,他喜欢讲述老数学家的故事和轶事,例如陈省身和华罗庚之间曾出现的那著名的竞争。我是一个乐于倾听的人,所以我们是很好的一对。

In these tales, Chung was always complimentary to Hua, having studied with him years earlier in China, but Chung never had anything good to say about Chern. Through our talks, and from my subsequent digging around, I learned some of the reasons why Chern and Hua didn’t get along—a situation that had adverse consequences for the entire Chinese mathematics community, as well as for me personally.

在这些故事中,钟总是对华赞不绝口,钟早在中国时就和华一起学习过,但钟对陈从来没有说过什么好话(没什么好说的)。通过我们的谈话,以及我随后的深入挖掘,我了解到了陈和华没有相处好的一些原因,这种局面对整个中国数学界以及我个人都产生了不利影响。

As Chung recounted the story, Hua was considered a genius because he had solved some big mathematical problems, despite the fact that he grew up in a poor family and had to make it on his own with an extremely limited education. Chern ultimately made far bigger contributions to the field, but those came somewhat later. Chern didn’t face the same financial struggles as Hua because his father was a judge, whereas Hua’s father was a shopkeeper and none too prosperous. In 1941, the Chinese government gave Hua its first-ever national scientific prize, a prestigious award something like the National Medal of Science that the United States started handing out a couple of decades later. I imagine this came as a blow to Chern, who happened to be living with Hua at the time. Chern’s resentment might have increased over the years because he was never accorded this same honor, even though Chung—who was telling me this story and never came close to rivaling Chern in stature—later won a silver medal.

正如钟讲述的那样,华之所以被认为是天才,是因为他解决了一些重大的数学问题,尽管华成长在一个贫穷的家庭,而且必须在极其有限的教育下独自完成。陈最终在他的领域做出了更大的贡献,但这些贡献来得有些晚。因为陈的父亲是法官,陈和华面临的经济困境不一样,而华的父亲是鞋店主,一点也不富裕。1941年,中国政府授予华有史以来第一个国家科学奖,这是一个有声望的奖项,类似美国几十年后开始颁发的国家科学奖章。我想这是对陈的打击,他当时正好和华住在一起。陈的怨恨可能会随着时间的推移而增加,即使告诉我这个故事的钟后来赢得了二等奖,他也从来没有获得过同样的荣誉;要知道钟从来没有接近陈的地位并与之竞争。

The rift between Chern and Hua might have started because of this perceived slight, growing wider as the years passed. It doesn’t take much, I’ve noticed, for feuds to begin, but it can take a lot to end them. Sometimes they don’t end until the main players have passed on and no one is left to fight.

陈和华之间的裂痕可能是由于这种轻微的感觉而开始的,随着时间的推移,裂痕越来越大。我注意到,开始不和并不需要太多时间,但结束它们却需要很多时间。有时候,直到当事人过世,没有人留下继续争斗了,它们才会结束。

以下是丘讲的钟的故事:

Chung was an unusual guy who didn’t get along well with other people in the department. He and Sam Karlin, who also worked in probability, didn’t even talk to each other. Even though I was on the faculty, I often sat in on classes. I sat in on Chung’s probability class in which he discussed Brownian motion—a phenomenon, stemming from the constant motion of atoms, that was  first explained mathematically by Einstein.

钟是个与众不同的人,他和系里的其他人相处得不好。他和也在概率论领域工作的萨姆·卡林(注:就是写概率第一、第二教程的那人),甚至互相不说话(注:这事也曾出现过华和钟身上,因为数学争执,钟为此换了许宝騄做导师,据徐利治口述历史,华说钟有点小孩子气 childish)。即使我是教员,我也经常坐在教室里听课。我坐在钟的概率课上,他讨论了布朗运动,这是一种现象,起源于原子的定常运动,爱因斯坦首先从数学上解释了这一现象。

At the end of the term after finals, Chung handed out a special problem for extra credit that was quite challenging. Several students put a lot of effort into it. While working through the problem, the students needed a reference to a topological statement they felt must be true. 

期末考试结束后,钟老师发给学生一个特别的问题,它可以给额外的学分,这问题是相当具有挑战性的。几个学生为此付出了很大的努力。在解决这个问题时,学生们需要一个参考文献来佐证一个拓扑结论,他们感觉它是正确的。

The Harvard mathematician Andy Gleason, who was visiting Stanford at the time, directed them to a paper by Kazimierz Kuratowski, which had just what they were looking for. 

当时正在斯坦福大学访问的哈佛数学家安迪·格里森(Andy Gleason)让他们看了Kazimierz Kuratowski的一篇论文,这篇论文正是他们想要的。

Shortly thereafter, the students laid out their argument to Chung. He stopped them when they reached the point of applying the Kuratowski result. One student mentioned that Gleason had apprised them of it. “Just as I thought,” said Chung, or words to that effect. He then promptly walked out of the room, even though the students were in the middle of their presentation.

此后不久,学生们向钟阐述了他们的论点。当他们达到应用Kuratowski结果的时候,他阻止了他们。一个学生提到是格里森告诉了他们这个文献。“就像我想的那样,”钟说,或者是同样效果的话。随后,他迅速走出教室,尽管学生们正在做报告。

I witnessed the whole episode, aghast. I could not believe that Chung would treat his students so callously (even though he had been very nice to me during my time at Stanford). Maury Bramson, who was a Stanford math graduate student at the time, told me that Chung’s unpleasantness 

我震惊地目睹了整个事件。我不敢相信钟会如此无情地对待他的学生(尽管他在斯坦福大学期间对我很好)。当时是斯坦福大学数学研究生的莫里·布拉姆森告诉我,钟的粗暴无礼是他决定离开斯坦福大学,在康奈尔大学完成博士学位的一个主要因素。

丘成桐随后讲了布拉姆森的一个“吃货”的故事,他可以在中国的自助餐厅,吃上一顿,几天就不用吃饭了。

据博主的阅读,后来可能丘成桐向来到美国访问的华罗庚求证过华与陈之间的事,华告诉丘“他们之间没有什么”。

一个在西南联大接受过教育的人,然后到了西方近30年,“耳濡目染”中西文化的钟开莱对“涉世未深”的年轻的数学家究竟有什么影响,是“启蒙”还是“潜移默化”了一个人心中的善或者远大理想?相信历史已经告诉了我们。

PS 以下来自白寿彝总主编的《中国通史》提供了获得“国家学术奖学金”的数学家名字

1941至1946年间,国民党政府曾颁发六届国家学术奖励金,获一等奖的有:华罗庚(数论)、苏步青(微分几何)、陈建功(三角级数)、王福春(三角级数);二等奖的有:许宝騄(统计)、周鸿经(三角级数)、钟开莱(概率论)、李华宗(矩阵论);三等奖的有:王福春(三角级数)、卢庆骏(三角级数)、熊全治(微分几何)、张素诚(微分几何)、吴祖基(微分几何)、蔡金涛(代数)、胡世华(逻辑)。



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