Sciences in Communist China: A Symposium Presented at the New York Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 26-27, 1960

By Sidney H. Gould | Go to book overview

Mathematics, 1949-1960

MARSHALL H. STONE, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois


The Current Picture

The present state of mathematics in continental China can be characterized in a few words and is, at the same time, more or less what might be expected a priori from a consideration of the circumstances under which mathematics has developed there. Although mathematics is more actively pursued than ever before in China, it is still largely derivative, is still rather concentrated on the more detailed aspects of classical problems, and is still almost entirely dependent for its scientific inspiration upon the leadership of a few gifted Chinese mathematicians and politically controlled contacts with the mathematicians of other Communist countries, chiefly the Soviet Union. Some of the mathematics published during the period 1949-1960 has been original, significant, and interesting; but a good deal has not. The government and the Communist Party have made a strong effort to stimulate research, publication, and education in mathematics, as in other branches of science. They also have attempted to direct the interests of more mathematicians toward fields allied to applications and to the applications themselves. Following more or less closely the Russian model, they have entrusted the task of developing science in China to a powerful and highly organized scientific academy, the Academia Sinica, which like the organization of the same name in Taiwan stems from the academy created long before World War II at Peking and later transferred to Nanking. The activities of the Academia Sinica ( Peking) and the related activities of the Chinese universities have already visibly stimulated and broadened the interest in mathematics and

-617-

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