Chapter 772: Awarded the Abel Prize!
Translator: Legge Editor: - -
Morning. 8 AM.
Zhang Ye, who was currently having an intimate chat with Old Wu at home, suddenly received an unexpected phone call. It was so unexpected that he did not even manage to get prepared for the sudden news!
"Hello, is this Teacher Zhang?" A young man's voice sounded from the other end.
Zhang Ye said: "Yes, that's me. Who is this?"
The young man said: "Hello, I am an administrative staff member at Peking University."
Zhang Ye said in an uncertain tone: "Peking University? Oh, hello."
The young man sounded very anxious. "I would like to ask if you're currently in Beijing?"
Zhang Ye said: "Yes, I am."
"That's great then! Could we have you make a trip to Peking University right now?" the young man said immediately. "We just received a notification fax a few minutes ago from the American Abel Math Foundation saying that you have been selected as the recipient of this year's Abel International Math Prize. The contact who is overseeing this nomination is already on the way to Peking University, and we have already informed the university board and the School of Mathematical Sciences. Everyone is already on their way here!"
Zhang Ye was a little taken aback: "Abel Prize?"
"Congratulations, Teacher Zhang!" the young man said happily. From the tone of his voice, it was not just a complimentary happy voice but one that sounded very excited: "You have really done everyone at Peking University proud this time! This Abel Prize is very well-known in the international mathematics scene. Ever since its introduction, you're the first Chinese citizen to receive it! In the past 40 years, there has never been a Chinese person awarded it!"
"Thank you. Alright then, I will be over in a bit."
"Don't delay any longer. It's best that you leave your house immediately. Dean Pan and the others have already heard the news and have canceled their day off to come back to the campus!"
"Sure, I'll be right there!"
"OK, we'll be waiting for you!"
After hanging up, the Dean of Peking University's School of Mathematical Sciences, Pan Yang, also called.
"Professor Zhang, have you heard?" Pan Yang sounded very excited as well.
Zhang Ye laughed and said: "I just found out. I don't know how to react right now."
Pan Yang laughed heartily: "Same here. I still thought that for an international prize like this we would have to wait until your proof of Dale's Conjecture had been verified before there would be a chance to be selected. Who knew that it would come so early? But then again, this is how it should be, since even if Dale's Conjecture hasn't been completely proven, the basic train of thought has already been set. The few proofs by contradiction methods that you raised in the process have all contributed greatly to the worth and meaning of mathematics. That alone would have been enough to earn you a selection for the award. Awarding you the prize before the conjecture has been proven isn't going overboard at all in this case, since you have solved one of the most difficult mathematical conjectures in the world!"
Being praised so highly, Zhang Ye also became rather polite and said: "It was all thanks to Dean Pan's guidance."
Dean Pan said happily: "Don't put it that way. I wouldn't dare take any credit for this. Still, congratulations to you!"
"Congratulations to you too," Zhang Ye said.
Dean Pan said: "I'm almost at Peking University already, so you should hurry up and get over here as well. We'll discuss further once you're here. Oh yes, remember to dress nicely. The media has been notified, so there will also be many people here!"
"Sure." Zhang Ye ended the call.
In his room.
Wu Zeqing understood just from listening. "You've been awarded a prize?"
Zhang Ye smiled proudly and said, "They mentioned it was called the Abel Prize or something."
Old Wu nodded and turned around to open his wardrobe. She found him a suit and handed it to him. "Hurry up and go then. Wear that suit so that you'll look more formal. Where's your tie?"
"In the lower drawer." Zhang Ye pointed.
After getting dressed, he checked himself out in the mirror while Old Wu helped put on his tie in a meticulous manner. She tied it quite nicely the first time round, but was somewhat unsatisfied with it, so she undid and tied it twice before she was satisfied.
"It's good now," Old Wu said.
Zhang Ye felt a little embarrassed. "I'd just invited you over but I have to go out now. Why not you stay around and wait for me since it's also your day off? I'll be back in the afternoon once I'm done over there."
Wu Zeqing agreed, "OK."
"I'll be going then."
"What do you want to have for lunch?"
"I like everything you cook."
On the way to Peking University, while he was stopped at a traffic light, Zhang Ye picked up his cell phone to check on the so-called Abel Prize to find out what it was about. Perhaps the people of this world were very familiar with it, but Zhang Ye was not the same. Strictly speaking, he was not someone of this world.
It was revealed online that this prize was not the most prestigious award in the field of mathematics. But even if it was not the most prestigious, it was still a very well-known international award. Its value was worth its weight in gold and the selection process of its recipients was very strict. This was essentially standard practice for all international awards. If you did not have an achievement that was greater than someone else's achievements, you didn't qualify for the award. On top of that, this greatness mainly stemmed from being a foreigner, or more specifically, a westerner. For a Chinese citizen qualifying for this award, the qualities assessed were even more stringent and you'd need to be greater than great to have a chance to receive the award. To quantify all past international awards recipients, if it was down to two people, a westerner and a Chinese citizen who had similar achievements, then the chances of the westerner getting the award was ten times greater than the Chinese citizen's chances. There was still a chance that the outsider might win, but if anyone were to say that there was not prejudice? Zhang Ye would not believe it.
In the decades since the founding of the nation, Chinese mathematicians had obtained some achievements and awards in the international arena. But for an important international award like the Abel Prize, it was still very rare with almost no one ever getting them. The Chinese mathematicians had only ever received some secondary awards on the international level, or a mathematics award that was given out domestically. Many of the prominent mathematicians on the grandmaster level had always missed out on those international awards!
Because of this, now that Zhang Ye was about to receive this Abel Prize, it was truly going to be a great achievement. This would also be the first time that a Chinese citizen would be receiving this award in history, so it had an even greater historical meaning to it. If it had to be put in a nicer way, then it could even be said that this was the first great step the Chinese mathematics field had taken into the international arena!
At Peking University.
When the car drove up to the school gates, there was already a huge crowd gathered!
"That's Zhang Ye's car!"
"Professor Zhang is here!"
When the more than 20 reporters from the media who had rushed to Peking University saw Zhang Ye's car, they rushed like mad toward him and stopped him just outside the school gates. Further up at the school gates, many of Peking University's students and staff were holding up a banner. It was a large red banner which was freshly printed with something like "A warm congratulations to Peking University's Associate Professor Zhang Ye from the Math Department on being awarded the Abel International Math Prize" and so on written on it. The banner was already secured on the left end while the right end was currently being held up by several people on a ladder, trying to secure it to the school gate. As there wasn't much time to react, the turnout was relatively low, yet the atmosphere was very warm!
Those Peking University students who lived in the dormitories had come out to witness the commotion.
The people sent by the media also gradually arrived in droves. Many of those reporters had driven their cars here and had to run over after parking. They arrived while they were still panting, obviously because this piece of news had come too suddenly, leaving everyone with very little reaction time!
Seeing this, Zhang Ye naturally did not just drive straight to his destination. He found a spot on the roadside and parked there.
"Professor Zhang, congratulations!" a female reporter from Beijing News Channel shouted.
Zhang Ye smiled and said, "Thank you. I've also just found out about this news."
A reporter from a newspaper firm raised an audio recorder and asked loudly, "Professor Zhang, what are your thoughts on becoming the first person in Chinese history to be awarded the Abel Prize?" As Zhang Ye held many different posts, when faced with different situations, the reporters would all address him differently. Sometimes, they would call him Teacher Zhang, other times Professor Zhang.
Zhang Ye answered, "I've only been selected for the award. I haven't received it yet."
A reporter laughed. "All that is left for you to do is to fly to America to receive it. Why don't you first tell us about your thoughts?"
Zhang Ye laughed heartily at that. "I will talk about it afterwards." Then he squeezed past them to go inside.
If it were another mathematician here today, a low-key academic worker would surely not be used to such a scene and might not even be able to handle all of these media personnel. But it was different for Zhang Ye, since this fellow not only dabbled in mathematics, but was also a big shot celebrity in the entertainment circle. Facing these reporters was part and parcel of his job, and whether it was an entertainment reporter, a news reporter, or an academic journalist, he could handle them all.
Soon after, a group of Peking University Math Department's teachers and professors came to welcome him.
Dean Pan led the group. "Haha, Professor Zhang, congratulations, congratulations!"
The teachers and professors from the School of Mathematical Sciences behind the Dean also offered their congratulations.
"Congratulations to you!"
"Professor Zhang, you've really done those of us at Peking University proud!"
"This award came so unexpectedly and surprisingly too!"
"We've all come out to welcome you, Professor Zhang!"
Everyone was in a joyous mood. The honor of Zhang Ye's achievement in the global mathematics field was also an achievement for the Chinese mathematics field. Similarly, it was even more of an honor for their Peking University's Math Department, thus, everyone felt very excited about it. The glory that Zhang Ye had brought to their Math Department was clearly not just any glory. Even the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which had so many Math Fellows, had never be selected for the Abel Prize. But today, Zhang Ye had been given the nod for the award, so what kind of glory was that?
Zhang Ye felt very flattered and quickened his pace. "Don't put it that way. I haven't done that much to deserve all of you senior teachers coming out to welcome me. Everyone is praising me too much."
An old professor from the Math Department said while stroking his beard and laughing, "Don't be so modest, kid. If you go out there and get more international math awards for our Peking University, I'd be more than willing to welcome you here every day!"
Pan Yang said with a smile, "Old Professor Sun, the award is not for our Peking University. That's an individual award he's getting."
The old professor stared at him. "Isn't Little Zhang part of Peking University as well? If Little Zhang gets an award, then it means that we get the award too! We're all family, what's the difference?"
Everyone from the Math Department laughed, thinking no one else would dare to claim things as they wanted, like how he just did. However, they all knew that Old Professor Sun didn't mean any disrespect. He was just an old man who was truly happy, happy for Peking University and also for their Chinese mathematics field. How many years had it been since China had someone as talented as Zhang Ye appear? A level that even many of them old veterans could not reach had now been reached by a twenty-something-year-old mathematician. The validation of the proof for Dale's Conjecture was still ongoing, so it wasn't yet time to say that the conjecture had been proven. But thinking about it, it was really just a matter of time before Zhang Ye's proof of Dale's Conjecture would be validated. At that time, without a doubt, Zhang Ye would surely reach an even higher level. It might even be possible that by then, the highest award in the global mathematics field might no longer be just a dream. They would even stand a chance to fight for it!
Amid the celebratory atmosphere, the leaders of Peking University also arrived one after another. There was a even a head of the school who rushed back to the unviersity when he heard about the news, despite being down with a flu and had originally taken a few days off to rest at home.
Several of the school heads met up outside the school gates.
"Is the news true?"
"It's verified to be 100% true! We have confirmation from the Abel Foundation!"
"That's great! From now on, there will no longer be any doubt about our Peking University's place in the Chinese mathematics field. Even internationally, our rankings will surely leap forward!"
"What about Zhang Ye's suspension?"
"Reinstate his classes! Get it done immediately!"
"Yes! Quickly get in touch with the school's administration and get this settled immediately. Remember, don't put today's date as his reinstatement date and use last month's date instead by keying it directly into the database. Otherwise, if the media finds out about this, it won't look good for us. As for the resuming of classes, we will let Zhang Ye decide it himself. We can't schedule his classes at fixed times, so let's just leave the schedule to him. If he has the time, he can come back to Peking University to hold classes or talks. But if he doesn't, we won't force him either. There's no need to arrange his class by time, just give it some freedom!"
"OK, I'll have someone get it done!"
After exchanging a few words, Zhang Ye's reinstatement as a teacher of Peking University was settled. At this point in time, no one would have the nerve to demand that Zhang Ye continue his suspension from school. On this point, the suspension had actually been given to protect him in the first place, so that the incident involving the insults to the foreign dignitaries would blow over. Otherwise, if they had the intention to fire him, they wouldn't have needed to take an extra step by suspending him. As for those teachers and leaders of Peking University who had conflicts with Zhang Ye, they wouldn't dare oppose the school's decision to reinstate Zhang Ye at this point in time either. There was an abundance of teachers at Peking University, so it wouldn't matter to the school if they were around or not. However, for a teacher like Zhang Ye who could qualify for an award like the Abel International Math Prize, there was only one of him. It was so clear that even a fool could see who was more expendable!
Ten minutes later, the Mathematics Association's personnel arrived!
Another ten minutes later, even people from the Chinese Academy of Sciences came to offer their congratulations!