Favorable conditions needed to nurture talented mathematicians

Prof. Dr. Ngo Bao Chau, Fields Medal winner and Director of the newly established Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics believes that to nurture talent in people it was vital to create the most favorable and conducive conditions for talent to flourish. 

Professor Ngo Bao Chau (R) meets with Ho Chi Minh City chairman Le Hoang Quan at his visit to the city People's Committee on March 10 (Photo: SGGP)

Prof. Chau expressed his viewpoints to a Saigon Giai Phong reporter during his visit to the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee office on March 10.
 
Reporter: What are your plans in your new position as director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics?
 
Prof. Chau: It is a great responsibility. As a scientific director, I must see that the institute operates effectively and in line with the orientation set by the Government and the Ministry of Education and Training.
 
The institute aims to create conditions for mathematicians in Vietnam to focus on scientific research and to attract young Vietnamese studying abroad to return home to work. Moreover, the institute will also create conditions for Vietnamese scientists to work with well-known foreign counterparts.
 
However, there are challenges ahead for implementing all the plans.
 
Reporter: What are the challenges?
 
Firstly, it’s about salary. So far, there has been no policy relating to payment of salaries to experts. The salaries which are feasible, not to mention the salaries that are a higher grade, are those that are paid by other countries.
 
Secondly, as per the institute’s organizational structure, there is no permanent member but only members under a six or twelve month work contract.
 
Finally, research work needs a good organizational infrastructure for foreign research teams to be able to come and work for six months or one year to produce good results.
 
The work scale however depends on the state budget.
 
Reporter: How can we attract overseas Vietnamese scientists to return home to work?
 
I think it’s to do with the salary. We don’t need to pay them as high as foreign countries but at least a rate in which they can afford to live well in today’s world.  
 
Besides this, we must create good working conditions for them.
 
Reporter: Why do you think that not many good people are studying mathematics in Vietnam?
 
It is a common issue of all sciences. Scientists who have made great contributions and have international prestige are all retired. There are few scientists of my age or five to ten years older than me. [Prof. Chau was born in 1972].
 
However, there are now many good young people, but they are all studying abroad. Many of them want to come home and devote themselves here but they don’t see any possibility of development and growth in the country.
 
Reporter: With your current post and position, do you think you can help to remove the above-mentioned obstacles?
 
A special mechanism is firstly needed to create conditions to attract young people to return home to work.
 
On my part, I will try to draw young mathematicians to work in Vietnam for one or two years. If they find that they have good working conditions and good cooperation from universities in Vietnam, they will surely work for a longer time.

The Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics is poised to become a prestigious mathematic center, to improve the scientific capabilities for mathematic researchers and lecturers in Vietnam.

The Hanoi-based institute is under the management of MoET. It operates under a special mechanism approved by the Government to encourage overseas Vietnamese scientists to join the institute for the development of mathematics in Veitnam.

Last year, Prof. Chau was awarded the Field Medal, the world’s top mathematics prize, for his proof of the Fundamental Lemma in the theory of automorphic forms, by introducing new algebro-geometric methods.

The award, comparable to the Nobel Prize, was a great honor for Vietnam, making it the second nation in Asia after Japan to receive the award.

In 2009, his evidence proving the Lang lands fundamental lemma was selected by Time Magazine as one of the 10 most outstanding scientific discoveries of 2009.

Source : VNA

By Thanh Hung – Translated by Hoang Yen

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