Talk:Shing-Tung Yau

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Name[edit]

Why is his name not in hanyu pinyin is he was from mainland china? --Jiang 05:12, 31 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I guess that's becuase cantonese is his mother tongue.--160.39.177.149 02:51, 2 May 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but more precisely because he got the anglicization in Hong Kong, where he was raised.


I found the last sentence of this bio -- Yau gave a controversial lecture on the proof of the Poincaré conjecture which may have influenced Grigory Perelman's decision to decline the Field's Medal -- troublesome. Is there any evidence backing this statement.

An encyclopedia should provide facts rather than conjectures.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Shing-Tung_Yau/Comments"

There is evidence for the above statement, see New Yorker article in external links below. 69.128.160.77 12:07, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Um, yeah. The statement regarding Poincare, Perelman etc. featured a reference to a lengthy, well-researched, published article discussing the matter in detail. How bizarre that someone would delete a well sourced statement, not even bother to check the reference, and then whine about facts and evidence etc. --GaeusOctavius 18:54, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Shouldn't the name of the article be Yau Shing-Tung? 91.208.174.15 (talk) 10:56, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

New Yorker Article[edit]

Yau is suing the Nasar, Gruber and the fact checker at the New Yorker for defamation. It should have been pretty clear to anybody reading this article that it was highly opinionated and approaching defamation. The fact that it has been used so uncritically in wikipedia is quite disturbing.

Um, actually he hasn't sued them yet, he has demanded a retraction and apology, and he has retained a lawyer. If his allegations prove true it will indeed be disturbing for the New Yorker's reputation, but I don't think you can blame Wikipedia.--GaeusOctavius 00:06, 20 September 2006 (UTC)


I agree that it is not fair to place this issue as a highlight on Yau's biography in wikipedia, simply because it is too controversial. An unbiased portrayal is very difficult to place, as one can see in articles such as "Manifold Destiny". It is better to leave the references and delete the content -- frinklemur


Deletion of New Yorker Article[edit]

I have removed the paragraph on the New Yorker article debate for several reasons.

Firstly, the New Yorker article is not faithfully represented. Nowhere does the article accuse Yau of formally contesting Perelman's priority in the proof of the Poincare conjecture.

The New Yorker article also does not say that Zhu and Cao claimed to be the "first to 'complete' the proof using Hamilton Perelman theory." The article directly cites the paper itself,

By the end of the following week, the title of Zhu and Cao’s paper on the A.J.M.’s Web site had changed, to "A Complete Proof of the Poincaré and Geometrization Conjectures: Application of the Hamilton-Perelman Theory of the Ricci Flow. The abstract had also been revised. A new sentence explained, This proof should be considered as the crowning achievement of the Hamilton-Perelman theory of Ricci flow.

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/08/28/060828fa_fact2?currentPage=9

Note three things :

a)

No claim is made that Yau authored the paper.

b)

The new yorker article does not accuse yau of making claim to being "the first to complete", rather, simply his students published "a complete proof". Nor is any subsequent retraction alleged. (this weird situation resulted from Perelman's never submitting a polished proof to a journal.)

c)

It says the proof is the crowning achievement OF the Hamilton-Perelman theory. This means the achievment belongs to the Hamilton-Perelman theory, not the authors, which do not, again, include Yau.

That is my first objection to these paragraphs, that the New Yorker Article is incorrectly presented.

Secondly, the New Yorker cannot be considered a reliable source with respect to priority in mathematical research which inevitability requires authority in mathematics itself. Wiki policy is clear on this :


Reliable sources are credible published materials with a reliable publication process; their authors are generally regarded as trustworthy, or are authoritative in relation to the subject at hand.

Nassar is not generally regarded as a reporter at all, but rather a biographer. At least two of the sources she quotes have publically stated she has misquoted them :

http://www.doctoryau.com/letter_stroock.html

http://www.doctoryau.com/letter_anderson.html

She does not pass the 'trustworthy' test in this instance and is of course not authoritative in relation to this subject.

Wikipedia's policies state that poorly sourced material, when they refer to a living person, must be removed immediately due to their potential for personal harm.

This controversy amounts to so much rumor. This brings me to my third and least important reason. This is a man who is arguably the creator of modern geometrical analysis. His work forms the foundation of String Theory. The importance of these achievements cannot be overstated.

An article by a non-mathematician claiming that - in a paper he did not author - he *intended* to steal credit but changed his mind - is totally out of place when it occupies 30% of an article otherwise devoted to factual, verifiable and accurate portrayals of his work.

Incidentally - as we are not here to decide these matters but rather judge their relevance and reliability - but as an aside, Perelman has refused prizes in the past. Also, the completion of the proof - making it suitable for publication in a journal - was necessitated by Perelman's refusal to submit the paper to any refereed journal, and his refusal to respond to any requests to flesh it out in a form suitable for publication. This highly unusual situation forced other mathematicians to publish "a complete proof."

On a personal note i should add i am in no way an interested party in the 'controversy', just a devoted wikipedian.

Every indication is Perelman simply wants to work alone in peace. He has refused prizes in the past. The Field's was worth $13,000 US. The Millenium Prize of $1M US has yet to be offered. Perelman need make only one phone call and money would be wired to him immediately from any major university in exchange for writing his next theorem on their letterhead.

CeilingCrash 09:41, 25 March 2007 (UTC)


The Nassar is not about mathematics, pre se, but rather about the sociology of mathematics and and the conflict between members of the mathematical profession. The New Yorker is well known for its rigorous fact-checking, and to my knowledge, has never had to retract an article. It is unlikely that Nassar, who is one of the premier biographers of mathematicians, is any more misleading than any other reporter on this issue. There shouldn't be a problem using the Nassar article while still remaining NPV. Benspigel (talk) 16:01, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

The New Yorker article was carefully fact-checked. Neutrality requires that all points of view be represented, including Ms. Nasar's. Senex101 —Preceding undated comment added 09:04, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one article was rated and this bot brought all the other ratings up to at least that level. BetacommandBot 04:24, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Inside the box, it said he was born in "Guangdong, China" with a P.R.China flag. But by the time he was born, PRC was not established.

Yau was born 1949-04-04, while Mao announced the establishment of PRC at 1949-10-01.

So I think the flag there is inappropriate.

NPOV and sources[edit]

Some of the content definitely seems full of POV. Some text is just not encyclopedic, and needs to be fixed. Also lacking sources for a significant part of the article. I've added the appropriate problem templates. Someone more knowledgeable about the subject and person is welcome to fix these problems and remove the templates. --Robin (talk) 17:01, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Since Yau has just been awarded a major prize, some activity is expected here. I have copy edited much of the recent additions, and will return to see how it is getting on. Charles Matthews (talk) 19:36, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Hagiographic tone[edit]

I have removed this entire section and placed it here, because its tone is not appropriate for Wikipedia. Charles Matthews (talk) 16:43, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

<begins> Besides being a deep and productive mathematician, Yau is also a loving husband, a caring father and a responsible teacher. For many of his students, he is more like a caring, though tough and strict at times, father.

As Yau expressed explicitly at the beginning of a documentary about him produced in Hong Kong, 2003, he has truly loved his wife and she is the only woman he has ever loved and will love in his life. Though he is very busy, he always finds enough time to educate his sons (for example, they could recite well many classical Chinese poems), and spends time with them such as going fishing and attending their activities at schools.

His wife Yu-Yun has had a lot of influence on him and his point of view of life, as explained by their long time friend Ronnie Chan, “Everyone knows that Shing-Tung has an amazing mind–perhaps only a few of this caliber each century–but unknown to many is his extraordinarily kind heart. He feels for the less fortunate in society. This quality, although innate, should have been strengthened by his upbringing–he had an exceptionally kind-hearted and learned father who unfortunately died when Shing-Tung was still young. It must have also been enforced by his wonderful wife.”

His college teacher, Dr.H. Chow, says that Yau often writes to him and sends him Christmas cards, and also visits him when Yau is Hong Kong. According to J.Smoller, a collaborator and friend, “I first met Yau at a lecture that he gave in 1978 in Bonn and I went up to him afterwards to clarify certain aspects. What I found particularly impressive was his easy-going and friendly manner.”

F. Hirzebruch, an eminent mathematician, commented: “I admire Shing-Tung Yau as a great mathematician and teacher, as a supporter of international cooperation, as a founder of institutes, as an editor of journals and as organizer of many important meetings.

D. Christodoulou, an eminent geometric analyst commented: “I had obtained a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1971, so at the time I first met Yau I already had a 10 year career as a physicist, however my career as a mathematician was just beginning. I interacted a lot with him for about 5 years. These were formative years for me.”

F.Bogomolov, a professor at the Courant Institute, recalls Yau’s interaction with fellow mathematicians: “I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with Prof. Yau at many different stages of my life. I met him first at the ICM in Helsinki in 1978. Since then I have met with him many times, and each conversation with him contained an element of discovery, bringing some completely new and formidable idea, or a remarkable question. Professor Yau has a striking ability to summarize the essence of a problem or an idea in very short and well focused form. His sharp questions are always directed straight to the point of the problem and help to uncover its hidden sense, whether it concerns asthmatics or some other matter. He is a brave thinker who never stops his quest and is never afraid to challenge a difficult problem.”

J.Jost, the Director of Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig, describes his experience with Yau: “I learned from Yau that in order to solve a problem you should try out as many ideas as possible. Even if none of them works, understanding why they don’t work gives you so much insight into the problem that eventually its essence becomes completely clear, and then you can solve it very easily.”

F.Catanese, a long time friend of Yau and an eminent algebraic geometer recalls: “If one looks at his achievements, it is simply amazing that a person who gave so incredibly many and so significant contributions in so many diverse fields, found also the way to care so much for so many students, to very actively engage in editorial activities (trying always to recruit the best papers) and in so many other projects. I benefited from some useful suggestions which later motivated my starting a new topic of research. As I told him on occasion of his election as a foreign Member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, he is not only regarded as the successor of Chern in the field of differential geometry, but many hope that he may continue to play a similar role for Chinese mathematics in the future.”

His interaction with mathematicians outside his fields is described by Y.Wang, a distinguished number theorist in China, “Though I work in an area far from Yau’s, I can feel his broad and deep knowledge of mathematics. He has great insights into both mathematics and human nature. He always replies to my inquiries. When he comes to Beijing, his schedule is often very tight, and I always try to find chances during car rides to learn from him.”

Indeed, Yau’s impact is very broad, as Winnie Li, a prominent number theorist at Penn State University, commented: “I never had any close contact with Yau, and I have always admired him from afar. I appreciate his support of activities in number theory. His leadership has a profound influence to generations of mathematicians.”

Yau’s impact goes beyond research and education in mathematics, as E. Lieb, a professor at Princeton University, commented: “One important aspect of Yau’s work, in addition to his mathematical contributions, is his social service to the community. In particular, he is one of the very few people who had the will, the energy, and the ability to do something about the high cost of mathematical publication. It has been my great pleasure to work with him on several projects involving publishing. Our community is in his debt for this aspect of his work alone, even without counting his manifold other contributions.”

Students are very dear to Yau’s heart, as observed by his wife: “The efforts he made at our home to groom some students individually probably are more than what he did for our children. And he tries to protect his students, particularly the newer PhDs, on their research work and if possible their jobs, sometimes at his expense of friendship with other professional contacts. Indeed, as I.M.Singer, an institute professor at MIT and an Abel Prize winner, commented: “Yau is a mathematics department all to himself. He holds seminars all the time, his students are very active all the time. They become part of his family.” His generous help to many people is greatly appreciated, as explained by B.Wong, a professor of Mathematics at UC Riverside:

“ Shing-Tung is a loyal soul with an extremely kind heart. I personally witnessed in many circumstances that he gave an unflinching support to numerous young mathematicians, and friends when their careers were in hardship. The extent of encouragement and support that Yau had offered to many mathematicians and friends (I myself was among one of them) were so critical and unforgettable. I also admire him very much for his unselfish devotion to nurturing the younger generations of mathematicians, both in the United States and China; he is never interested in obtaining monetary return for his endless effort of doing this. For me, Shing-Tung is a great mathematician, a brave man with lofty ideals, and a good friend, all in one.”

M.Stern, a professor at Duke University, recalls the way Yau advises his students: “Yau had an interesting method for filtering prospective students. When I asked if I could work with him, he asked what I was interested in. I told him that I had just read a book by Gilkey on index theory and that the results seemed magical. I asked if there were any open problems in this area. He said yes: noncompact manifolds, but that this was too hard an area. He then told me to read Gilbarg and Trudinger, Griffiths and Harris, and Hirzebruch’s Topological Methods in Algebraic Geometry, and then get back to him. After acquiring the books and starting Gilbarg and Trudinger, I decided to wait several weeks before returning. I don’t know if he assumed that I had already read those volumes in such a short time, but perhaps so, as he suggested at our second meeting that I work on index theory on noncompact manifolds. When I responded that he had said that this was too hard, he replied, “Not if you work hard enough.” This latter attitude was one of Yau’s great gifts to his students. If you work hard enough, you can discover interesting mathematics, even if you are not a superstar. It goes without saying that Yau also exposed his students to an incredibly rich and varied mathematical world. Yau’s interest in and support of his students continued after they graduated. In my case, he offered career advice and collaborations, and put me in contact with future collaborators.

Christine Taylor recalls affectionately Yau as an advisor: “Having Yau as an advisor is like having another parent, not just for the few years of graduate school, but also for life. We can always count on his support. Yau, being Chinese, may not show his affections for his students as effusively as Americans, yet all of us know that he’s proud of us, just as we are of having him as our teacher. I think such a bond between an advisor and students is very rare.”

Another student Chiu-Chu Melissa Liu describes Yau’s help to students: “During the summer after my second year of graduate study, Professor Yau sensed that I felt insecure from a conversation with me. During the week after, Professor Yau arranged a conversation between Professor Fan Chung and me, and an extensive discussion among Professor Karen Uhlenbeck, Professor Chuu-Lian Terng, and his female students. This is something that I would never forget.”

Alina Marian, who got her Ph.D. in 2004, recalls Yau’s supervision at Harvard: “Mathematical discussions with Yau are unceremonious, and their point is reached very quickly. He is unusually frank in giving his opinion about a piece of work or about the prospects of a line of research, yet every time I felt encouraged by him. Most impressively, Yau was essentially always available for his students. I was once scheduled to give a talk in his student seminar very late in the fall semester. It was in fact two days before Christmas, in a virtually empty mathematics department, that I found myself ready to give a lecture, on a fairly modest subject. The audience, however, was entirely lacking ... Somewhat deflated, I went to tell Yau (who was a little late) that the seminar will have to be cancelled. Yau persuaded me to proceed with the talk, and listened to it, alone, for a long time.”

As S.Wolpert, an prominent mathematician at Univ of Maryland commented: “Over the years since Stanford I have found Yau to be interested in virtually every question in mathematics. Yau has always encouraged the study of the “big questions” that cross fields and that can open entire new areas of understanding. Also I have appreciated conversations with his students who are well versed on the particulars of current research problems in geometry. One measure of the success of the Yau seminars is the knowledge of his students.”

His working relation with his students is perhaps best described by R.Schoen, a former student, now a professor at Stanford University: “I first met ST Yau in 1973 when I was a second year PhD student at Stanford and he was a newly arrived faculty member. We became mathematically involved through a reading course I was doing with Leon Simon on minimal hypersurfaces. This led to a three-way joint work on properties of stable minimal hypersurfaces. I continued to work with both Yau and Leon while I was a student and was officially their joint PhD student. I spent several hours a day working with (mostly learning from) Yau when I was a student. He was interested in anything geometric, and he had ideas for approaching a vast range of problems. This was an incredible opportunity for me, and it gave me a great start on my research career. We wrote two more joint papers while I was a student.

I left Stanford in 1976 to take up a two year instructorship in Berkeley. Yau came to Berkeley during my second year, and we continued our collaboration. It was in Berkeley that we began our work on scalar curvature and the positive mass theorem. We expanded this work substantially over the next few years, and I remember wonderful times working together at Stanford during the summers of 1978 and 1979. During the 1979-80 academic year Yau organized a special year at the Institute for Advanced Study. This was another formative period in my career since there was so much going on in a wide variety of directions. I learned a lot and did some work that I am still proud of.

I have vivid memories of Yau from the early times: his tremendous dedication to his work (he was in his office day and night including weekends), his amazing breadth of knowledge and technique, his openness and generosity with his time. When I look at Yau now, it is amazing how little he has changed. He still has the same basic personal qualities and the same extremely high energy level.

<ends>

Neutrality[edit]

There are inline references to the site of the Center of Mathematical Sciences, Zhejiang University. The material on that site is clearly not really independent of Yau, and citations from it have to be treated selectively. Charles Matthews (talk) 17:09, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Has Yau actually filed for defamation? If so, has he lost?

This page is actually rather pro-Yau, rather than NPOV. While I have no bad personal experiences with Prof. Yau myself, let me just state that the general position of the author of the New Yorker article is, if anything, a milder version of that of a wide range of senior mathematicians. The incident involving Perelman's proof seems to have been the last in a long series on Yau's part. We need, at the very least, more detailed reporting of the New Yorker's claims. Feketekave (talk) 17:09, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Why do you say that? The Manifold Destiny article is just journalism. I would agree that the slant of the page is a little in favour of Yau, but that is because much rather propagandistic material was added shortly after he received the Wolf Prize. The usual way is to reduce bias in a few steps. Charles Matthews (talk) 17:53, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
The fact that the "Manifold Destiny" article is journalism doesn't mean that its claims cannot be discussed. It might be a little different if there were the same level of ethical oversight (or even discussion of academic ethics) in mathematics as there is in more cutthroat fields. Among the three choices - discussing what seems to be serious journalism, going into details about the word on the street (which we probably can't do) and doing nothing, it seems to me that the first would be best. Already the fact that somebody felt that the hagiographic material needed to be added shows that there is an unusual situation here. Feketekave (talk) 11:36, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
The "hagiography" (I won't dispute the adjective but "propagandistic" is more accurate) is easily accounted for: Yau has many students, they have students, and numerous people will feel they should add very positive comments to the article. I took out a lot, and I can cut more, when I feel I know what I'm doing with the mathematics. I'll make the obvious point that Wikipedia is not here to police ethics in mathematics, but to compile well-resourced factual information.
The "criticism" is currently reduced to two points: Yau has alienated some colleagues (which actually doesn't allow for other reasons people might talk in a negative way to a reporter), but Yau has felt an intellectual responsibility to the "truth" about PC. The second point can be read as Yau interfering with a referee's responsibility, if you like. Those who know the mathematical community will read these matters in some way differently to those who don't. I would be guided here by the principle of not putting undue emphasis on details of a controversy, having mentioned that it exists, and explaining sources and background, in a biography of a living person. Of course the article can be improved in various ways. Charles Matthews (talk) 13:10, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
I've added one sentence to try to get the NY article in summary. Charles Matthews (talk) 13:21, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

Small wording issue[edit]

The author contains "Work on these conjectures were taken from the solution of the Poincaré conjecture by Perelman" which does not make sense to me. Was work on these conjectures _used_ by Perelman in his (more recent) proof? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.151.103.9 (talk) 17:48, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

I've cut that out. Charles Matthews (talk) 21:22, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

birman[edit]

I deleted the Birman reference at Manifold Destiny for reasons explained at Talk:Manifold Destiny#Birman. I will leave it to someone else to delete it here if there is consensus. Tkuvho (talk) 13:29, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Transfering material from Talk:Manifold Destiny#Birman:

  • Please put that content back to where it belongs. You are obfuscating the discussion. Agricola44 (talk) 16:19, 27 February 2012 (UTC).
WP:BLP notes that "BLP applies to all material about living persons anywhere on Wikipedia". Thus, this talk page is the appropriate venue for discussing material on Yau. Tkuvho (talk) 11:03, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Birman[edit]

Birman's comment to the effect that "the normal peer review process, essential to the integrity of the profession, was tossed out the window when the paper of Cao and Zhu was accepted for publication in the Asian Journal of Mathematics (AJM)" could be inexact or even slanderous. I don't think we should endorse it here. Tkuvho (talk) 13:19, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

I don't understand your point. Maybe her comment was foolish, inexact, slanderous, or whatever, but she did write it, and she did it in a very carefully considered published letter that she intended for a wide audience. Unless she has retracted it, it is her opinion. My only objection is to attributing similar views to "other high-profile mathematicians". No one else has said anything so foolish, as far as I know. The comment should be attributed to Birman and Birman alone. Roger (talk) 17:19, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
My point is precisely that the comment was not carefully considered, and is furthermore inexact and potentially slanderous. I don't think it is accurate to assert that the peer review process was tossed out the window. Furthermore, publicizing such intemperate statements about living individuals could land wiki in trouble. If the statement were merely foolish it would be a small problem. Potential slander is a big problem. Tkuvho (talk) 17:25, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
You mean Birman did not carefully consider what she said?! She wrote a letter to the editor of publication that is read by most American mathematicians, and it reads as if she put some careful thought into the matter. The letter is online. She could have retracted her opinion, or updated her opinion, on her Columbia web site. There is no reason to doubt that it is her opinion, and that she deliberately chose to go on the record with that opinion. It may have been an intemperate statement, but it was Birman who made it and Birman who chose to publish it and stand by it. It is never troublesome for WP to quote such a statement. Birman is not being misrepresented. Roger (talk) 18:50, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
Not everything that appears in print deserves to be reproduced at wiki. There is a lot of slanderous material out there in print that we can't and shouldn't reproduce when it comes to a living person, as per WP:BIO. There is no evidence that Birman's comment is notable or influential. Furthermore, I believe it is inexact, and the paper by Cao in fact was refereed properly. Tkuvho (talk) 08:04, 20 February 2012 (UTC)
The current wording "The controversy led Joan Birman to call for increased ethical responsibility in the mathematics community" is inexact. Birman did not say a word in her letter about "ethical responsibility". Tkuvho (talk) 08:24, 20 February 2012 (UTC)
It appears to me that the entire paragraph is at least problematic and should be/remain removed. When you remove generalization you get a statement about the opinion of one person, and unless she is speaking for a larger organization this seems unencyclopedic. The opinion as phrased is, whether it accurately reflects what she wrote or not, so wishy-washy that it's hard to see why it would be in the article anyway; surely no one is calling for less ethical responsibility.--RDBury (talk) 09:43, 20 February 2012 (UTC)
It seems a reasonable comment: the retraction of the paper indicates some kind of failure of review. I see no reason why the direct quote should not go into the article, per WP:NOTCENSORED. -- 202.124.75.9 (talk) 22:03, 20 February 2012 (UTC)
I am not sure what you are referring to. Which paper was retracted? The Cao paper was not retracted, it was published. The title was changed at the last minute, but that's not a retraction. The change of title certainly does not indicate that the paper was not refereed. In fact, the paper was refereed, and very thoroughly, though perhaps not by people that Birman would have preferred to have refereed it. No mistakes have been found in the paper since, to my knowledge. Tkuvho (talk) 08:39, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
That's totally not what WP:NOTCENSORED says. In fact it's pretty hard to imagine a scenario where WP:NOTCENSORED would come into play in any math related article.--RDBury (talk) 01:23, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps you and I are reading different articles, Tkuvho. I read "On December 3, 2006, Cao and Zhu retracted the original version of their paper", and earlier a quote starting: "On April 13th of this year, the thirty-one mathematicians...". Given these, the Briman paragraph seems more than appropriate. --14:19, 21 February 2012 (UTC) [comment by tagishsimon]
Please sign your comments with 4 tildas. Also, please read the conclusion of the sentence you cited: "On December 3, 2006, Cao and Zhu retracted the original version of their paper, which was titled “A Complete Proof of the Poincaré and Geometrization Conjectures — Application of the Hamilton–Perelman Theory of the Ricci Flow”[2] and posted a revised version, renamed, more modestly, "Hamilton–Perelman's Proof of the Poincaré Conjecture and the Geometrization Conjecture"." What changed was the name. Cao retracted the title, not the paper. Tkuvho (talk) 14:30, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
So I take it you are conceding the peer review point? The retraction paragraphs talk about "posted a revised version" and "Rather than the claim of the original abstract, 'we give a complete proof', suggesting the proof is by the authors, the revised abstract states: 'we give a detailed exposition of a complete proof'. The authors also took out the phrase 'crowning achievement" from the abstract.'". All of that suggests that the paper was indeed retracted and revised, rather than merely being renamed. WHy are you being selective in your reading of the two paragraphs? --Tagishsimon (talk) 14:37, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
The peer review process has nothing to do with these changes. The peer review process is a process that ensures the mathematical accuracy of the results of a given article. This was done properly. I don't see how "crowning achievement" or lack of "crowning achievement" can be indicative of "throwing the peer review process out the window". Tkuvho (talk) 14:42, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
Now you seem to me to be mixing up two issues. Issue one is the peer review, or lack thereof. There, I refer you to the "On April 13th of this year" quote which lends support to Briman's assertion that the process was indeed thrown out of the window. The second issue is whether or not the paper was retracted ... that's a point that you raise, and which has nothing to do with the question of the peer review. Why are you conflating the two issues? --Tagishsimon (talk) 14:48, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
An IP claimed earlier that the paper was withdrawn, and that this proves that the peer review process was so thrown. Actually, neither claim is correct. The paper was not withdrawn but merely the title (as well as some details of wording), for good reason that the paper was correct, as ensured by an appropriate peer review process. Tkuvho (talk) 15:10, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
So that's just a side-show, then. Let's get back to the main event. We have a statement - whether wise or misguided - absolutely attributable to Birman. We have support for Birman's take on it in the 13th April quote. We - wikipedia - are not in legal jeapordy if we relate Birman's words. Birman's words appear to be a valid and on-topic addition to the article. Remind me again, on what grounds you would not use the paragraph? --Tagishsimon (talk) 15:14, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
And having read the whole of Birman's letter at http://www.ams.org/notices/200701/commentary-jan.pdf I would be amazed if we did not refer to it in this article. --Tagishsimon (talk) 15:22, 21 February 2012 (UTC)
This entire discussion is a distraction. There is a relevant source from a reliable publication by a luminary in the field. Trying to suppress this source by attaching to it some kind of subjective judgement of unworthiness is POV-pushing. Also, rest assured that the editorial staff of the Notices knows much more about libel law (not slander, as erroneously referred to above) and that this letter passed muster – that thrust is just another attempted diversion to censor this letter from Joan Birman. Agricola44 (talk) 15:58, 21 February 2012 (UTC).
I'm still not seeing how anything in the letter is encyclopedic and since it does not refer to the "Manifold Destiny" or the associated picture it seems off-topic as well. I agree that the whole slander/libel issue isn't relevant here, but an encyclopedia is about facts, not opinions, and the Birman letter basically just states the opinion of a single person. If the letter had been publicly endorsed by other mathematicians or had some other wider impact then I could see including it, but this doesn't seem to be the case.--RDBury (talk) 20:50, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
You're interpreting "fact" as pertaining to the actual events surrounding the proof, e.g. whether other mathematicians have the same opinion about these events. However, this WP article is not about those events. Rather, it is about "Manifold Destiny", a New Yorker article written about these events. In other words, this WP page is "once removed", a very crucial distinction. So "fact" must be interpreted here as pertaining to the New Yorker article. You may want to read Birman's letter. It refers quite plainly to this (I would like to comment on...the article in the New Yorker magazine about...), so it is unquestionably relevant. Why the campaign to throw it out? In fact, if one re-reads the "controversy" section carefully, much of its contents do not pertain to the New Yorker article, but rather to the events themselves, e.g. the Science "Breakthrough of the Year". These will certainly have to go too if subjected to your inclusion test. Agricola44 (talk) 21:15, 22 February 2012 (UTC).
I agree with User:RDBury's sentiment would like to reiterate an additional significant point namely that Birman's comment appears to be technically incorrect. Namely, it is incorrect to assert that the peer review process was thrown out the window as Birman did. I don't know which field Birman is a "luminary" in, as claimed by an editor here, but she certainly is not an expert in differential geometry and probably has little understanding of Perelman's proof. Tkuvho (talk) 08:06, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
The tone of your message, with the scare quotes and the "I don't know what field she's an expert in" phrasing seems deliberately aimed at questioning Birman's expertise as a mathematician and in the process also makes it obvious that you haven't even tried to look at the article we have on her. This is completely uncalled for and a violation of WP:NPA. Please stick to the substance of the discussion instead of making ad-hominem insinuations about the authors of our sources. —David Eppstein (talk) 08:15, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
On the contrary, David, you are the one who are engaging an ad hominem attacks against a fellow editor. I read our page on Birman carefully. The page did nothing to change my opinion of Birman as a competent topologist, far from being a luminary, which is a term one should reserve for the likes of Thurston. That she is not an expert in differential geometry can be ascertained by checking her publication list here. Tkuvho (talk) 08:19, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
Here is a record of another of Birman's inept involvements in politics: "Birman, Joan S. On Shafarevich's essay Russophobia. Letter to the editor: "Listening to Igor Rostislavovich Shafarevich" [Math. Intelligencer 11 (1989), no. 2, 16--28; MR0994960 (90f:01057)] by S. Zdravkovska. With a reply by Sheldon Axler. Math. Intelligencer 14 (1992), no. 2, 3–4. This letter is an appeal to the Mathematical Intelligencer to speak out on the anti-Semitic views of Russian mathematician I. R. Shafarevich's Russophobia, a view which was overlooked in Zdravkovska's 12-page interview cited in the heading. It is observed that "the editors were unwilling to publish" a detailed review and critique of the book by Larry Shepp and Eugene Veklerov but did publish ("after a lengthy negotiation") a brief letter to the editor [Math. Intelligencer 12 (1990), no. 3, 4]. The letter also states that wounds were reopened by a short piece in the "Opinions" column based on an interview with Professor Boris Moishezon [Math Intelligencer 14 (1992), no. 1, 61--62] implying that Shafarevich could not be that bad. "Sheldon Axler replies" is the response by the editor-in-chief of the Mathematical Intelligencer in which he more than adequately explains the origins of this controversy and his adept handling of it. Briefly, in his opinion, Russophobia is anything but mathematical (other than being written by a mathematician) and therefore discussion of its contents is completely inappropriate for that journal. His explanation of the "lengthy negotiation" shows that it was in fact shorter than most "negotiations" involved in getting a paper published. {Reviewer's remark: Hear, hear, for Axler. Let's get on with mathematical discussions and leave politics and religion to another venue.} Reviewed by Douglas E. Cameron. Tkuvho (talk) 09:24, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
Tkuvho, you're making the same basic logical error as RDBury above: confusing the debate of the events themselves (not what this article is about) with debate of the New Yorker article about those events (what this article is about). Quite obviously, it makes no difference whether Birman is merely an eminent mathematician, or an eminent topologist. The very first sentence of her letter indicates motivation by the New Yorker article and that alone makes it relevant here. Why the campaign to throw her letter out? Agricola44 (talk) 16:16, 23 February 2012 (UTC).
I agree with you that the precise degree of Birman's eminence is not that relevant. I was not the one to raise the issue. I merely responded to exaggerated claims of "luminariness". Now the main points are that (1) Birman's comment is not notable as we have no evidence that anybody either cited it or agrees with it; (2) what she said appears to be technically incorrect, as explained above. Tkuvho (talk) 17:01, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
Whether or not she is correct is not relevant. It's not for us to act as judge in the matter - though I find her words a great deal more compelling than yours. Your rationale re: notability is cobblers. She's had a letter published in a mainstream maths publication, commenting on the New Yorker article. That is absolutely germane to this article. Frankly I do not understand the basis of your objections. There's obvious support for her allegations in the article already. I come away thinking that you have a partisan stance in the matter; forgive me if that's a false impression, but it's where occam's razor takes me. --Tagishsimon (talk) 17:20, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Tkuvho, I must respectfully point out that you're now confusing "notability", an issue that only applies to the WP article and not at all to sources for the WP article. There's absolutely no requirement that anyone has previously cited Birman's letter. Sorry, but anyway you slice this logical pie, Birman's letter is relevant. As to your point (2), it is mere assertion. It would be good if another WP:RS could be found that makes your point. That could go into the article too! However, there's neither any policy or logic impediment in restoring the citation to Birman's letter. I motion that it be restored. Agricola44 (talk) 18:12, 23 February 2012 (UTC).
I see that you added the Birman information at Shing-Tung Yau. Don't you think WP:BLP applies here? Tkuvho (talk) 20:01, 25 February 2012 (UTC)
There is no BLP issue in adding appropriately cited information about Birman's letter to the NoAMS, to the Yau article. What *exactly* do you think the BLP issue is? Or are you just trying it on? --Tagishsimon (talk) 13:02, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Seconded. The idea that we would not pick up on a reaction to the affair and the article in the world's most widely read mathematics magazine is beyond comprehension. Ad hominem attacks on Birman - "inept" - only underscore the paucity of your argument, Tkuvho. --Tagishsimon (talk) 22:21, 23 February 2012 (UTC)
User:Tagishsimon feels that "there is no BLP issue" with adding this material "to the Yau article", in his words. I feel there is indeed a WP:BLP issue. This issue should be discussed in this page since it concerns its subject. Tkuvho (talk) 13:33, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Which quote from Birman exactly do you want to add to this page? Tkuvho (talk) 13:36, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

It would be really great, Tkuvho, if you would tell us all what you think the BLP issue is w.r.t. to inclusion in the Yau article of information relating to Birman's NoAMS letter.

Meanwhile, as you have moved the whole of this thread to this page, I presume that means that you are happy that there's no issue with including Birman in the Manifold Destiny article. Or are you just playing with us? --Tagishsimon (talk) 14:29, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

Note that there are three editors opposed to the inclusion of this material, namely User:RDBury, User:R.e.b., and myself. Are you implying that all three of us are "playing" with Tagishsimon? It would be helpful if you could specify which material you would like to include here exactly against the opinion of three editors. Tkuvho (talk) 14:40, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Ah. Forum shopping. I understand. The information I am talking about - and which I think we are all talking about - is mention of the Birman letter to the NoASM. You have said that this is a BLP issue. What, for the third time of asking, is the nature of this BLP issue of which you speak? Anyone would think that you were trying to avoid answering what seems to me to eb a fairly simple question. --Tagishsimon (talk) 14:46, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
I am copying additional material from Talk:Manifold Destiny#Birman (see below). Please place all future comments here so as to centralize the discussion. Tkuvho (talk) 10:26, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
It's becoming increasingly obvious that Tkuvho is playing games. He/she has been invited numerous times to specify the nature of the BLP he/she alleges is represented by inclusion of information about the Birman letter. Although it is obvious that Tkuvho is aware that the question has been posed and has edited wikipedia multiple times since the question was posed, answer came there none. That being the case, if Tkuvho does not engage constructively - by which I mean specifying the nature of the BLP - then I shall re-add the Briman section within eight hours of this post. Enough is enough. --Tagishsimon (talk) 16:39, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
Please specify the nature of the material you would like to "re-add" if you wish to engage constructively. Tkuvho (talk) 10:26, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
I'm struggling to understand why there is so much drama over a short paragraph in a little read article. I oppose including the material for reasons stated above, but mainly because it's trivia that most readers won't be interested in. So I'm confused about why there is all the argument, accusations of bad faith and determination to restore the material (this discussion is now longer than the Birman letter that started it) when the only effect it will have will be to waste 15 secs. of the lives of anyone who bothers to read that far into the article. I'm opposed in general to the increasing trivialization of Wikipedia, the idea that anything that can be included must be included whether or not there is a chance that anyone will want to read it, which is why I'm responding here. Otherwise I don't care that much about the outcome of this discussion, though I am disappointed at the tone it is taking, especially when the issue seems to matter so little.--RDBury (talk) 12:16, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

I've been asked to comment here. This article is a BLP and so should be looked at for rigorous application of content policies. I note that in the past there has been a problem with a "hagiographic" tone in the article. That is not, however, appropriately dealt with by over-correction.

The particular point at issue is apparently the application of WP:UNDUE. That contains the wording:

For example, discussion of isolated events, criticisms, or news reports about a subject may be verifiable and neutral, but still be disproportionate to their overall significance to the article topic.

Which appears to be directly relevant: the Perelman proof was newsworthy, and the article Manifold Destiny was topical at the time. Note that UNDUE is part of WP:NPOV, which is pretty much foundational here. From WP:SUMMARY

The idea is to summarize and distribute information across related articles in a way that can serve readers who want varying amounts of detail.

In the light of those two points I come down on saying the Birman quote is out of place here: the fit with the policies seems good. Charles Matthews (talk) 12:58, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

That's all well and good. However this discussion has been moved here from the Manifold Destiny article, where the Birman information is absolutely apropos, and will be re-added later today. Any discussion of Birman in Manifold Destiny should be on its talk page and not on the talk page of this article. --Tagishsimon (talk) 13:18, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Yes, I was talking about this article on Yau. As far as the Manifold Destiny article is concerned, UNDUE still applies, but obviously not in just the same way. But I have always thought that was an anomalous article: there is a topic, controversy after the Perelman proof, and there seem to be the assumptions (1) that the New Yorker article is notable in the right sense (not just the media-driven sense), and (2) that the controversy is appropriately handled there.

At this distance, Manifold Destiny makes an odd read: it has a strict focus on events in 2006? And the tone seems wrong. I'd be glad to see it completely rewritten, and all our coverage of these events reconsidered. Charles Matthews (talk) 13:50, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Thanks, Charles. WP:BLP notes that "BLP applies to all material about living persons anywhere on Wikipedia". Thus, the policy applies to Manifold Destiny, as well. Thus, this talk page is the appropriate venue for discussing material on Yau. Tkuvho (talk) 14:04, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

I don't agree with that, though; and I certainly believe that it is artificial to use this talk page as a forum for detailed discussion of how to pull Manifold Destiny into shape. Which I would say is the important issue right now. Could you do as Tagishsimon suggests and thrash it out on Talk:Manifold Destiny? Whatever the virtues of writing here on matters concerning Yau, that article needs attention more than the Yau article does. The whole business of talking about "three teams", and then switching focus to Yau, is very problematic. Charles Matthews (talk) 14:17, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

I agree with the thrust of your comments concerning Manifold Destiny. I was merely pointing out that as far as the narrow issue of the Birman material is concerned, it should be discussed here as the same BLP rules apply in both cases. Tkuvho (talk) 14:25, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Your last comment is what I disagree with, though. In extreme cases Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons/Noticeboard should be used. At present I think the Manifold Destiny article should at very least be cured of some obvious writing issues first (the thing that tends to get neglected in edit wars). Charles Matthews (talk) 15:39, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

By all means reconsider and rewrite - though I note that that article survived an AfD. The crux of the immediate issue is Tkuvho's removed from that article of Birman information, and subsequent refusal to discuss the ground for the removal, beyond a hand-wavey assertion of unspecified BLP issues, and the removal of the MD Birman thread from the MD talk to this page. It seems clear to me that a comment in the most widely read maths journal, which diretly references the NY article which is the subject of the MD article, is on topic, whether or not one personally agrees with Birman's take. Neither is there a BLP violation involved in noting Birman's criticism of the process which led to the publication of the original article. It's for those reasons and absent any good argument for overlooking Birman that I'll be adding it back in. (My contention is that by this point Tkuvho is playing games.)
I tend to agree that there's a strong case for folding MD into Poincaré conjecture, but even were that done, I'd continue to support the inclusion of the Birman quote. I doubt that it is often that the process of publication is called into such disrepute in such a public forum as Birman's letter in the NaAMS.
I reserve the right, later, to come back to this page and argue the case for Birman in the PCC section in this article. Right now, though, MD is the focus of my attention.
If Tkuvho would wish to argue here why Birman should be excluded from the MD article, that would be fine. If he or she does not wish to engage constructively, that would also be fine. The key question is, what are the BLP issues associated with mentioning Birman in MD. --Tagishsimon (talk) 14:20, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Excellent question. Obviously the question of violations or lack thereof can only be discussed once you specify the material you would like to include. Tkuvho (talk) 14:27, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
Well, it would be pretty much the same as you have already removed twice. Do you remember, way way back, when this discussion was about reinstating the content you removed? I'll add it this evening, and you can then discuss on the MD talk page reasons - if any - why it shold not stay. --Tagishsimon (talk) 14:34, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

My personal view is this: we need at present an article at the title Verification of Perelman's proof. Then it can start off with: why anyone argued that the proof needed verifying; who set about verifying it; and what the outcome was. The controversy about Yau was an offshoot of a secondary source which reported on the verification. Birman's quote was an offshoot of a debate about the handling of one of the papers purporting to verify Perelman. Leaving open the question of whether Manifold Destiny should be moved to that title or not, it seems to me that the "verification" article is actually more needed for historians to get a perspective. I see no problem in including Birman's critical view in such an article if that is done in line with NPOV. Charles Matthews (talk) 15:46, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

That discussion would be fine to have here. However, Manifold Destiny cannot be made to suffer in the meantime. Moving the active discussion of the Birman letter from Talk:Manifold Destiny to here is plainly disruptive. I'm going to seek admin involvement unless the "manifold" discussion is put back where it belongs today so that the interested parties can resolve that particular issue over there. Thanks, Agricola44 (talk) 15:53, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Well, I'm an admin. I have to say that your contributions above don't seem to me particularly helpful. Mentioning the disruption guideline when it clearly doesn't apply would be an example. Charles Matthews (talk) 19:06, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

  • Is that to say then that you feel it's OK to unilaterally move the discussion for one article to another one, making others chase around after it, breaking the continuity of the discussion, and muddling the issue with another article? Disruptive seems quite apt. Birman's letter here is a different issue than Birman's letter for Manifold Destiny and the only way to settle the issue (over there, which is the only discussion several of us are participating in at the moment) is to put that discussion back where it originated and rightly belongs, yes? Thanks, Agricola44 (talk) 19:49, 28 February 2012 (UTC).

The "disruption guideline" you linked to refers to a pattern of behaviour, not some particular action you happen not to like. I have said above that I disagree with what Tkuvho takes to be the right approach here; but AGF applies, and BLP matters are serious (I couldn't disagree more with what RDBury has to say about that). Now, to get back on track, we need to stop discussing the actions of editors, and return to discussing content. Charles Matthews (talk) 20:11, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

  • I don't want to get further bogged-down in legal esoterica and I think we all agree with your point of getting back on track. The question is how to do this and I think the answer is that we have to debate Birman's letter for Manifold Destiny at Talk:Manifold Destiny. This seems nothing less than self-evident to me. I think Tagishsimon has volunteered to take care of the details and I'll look forward to talking with all interested parties and coming to some consensus on this matter back over there. Thanks, Agricola44 (talk) 20:47, 28 February 2012 (UTC).


I have re-added a Birman section into the Manifold Destiny article - diff. And I have opened a new thread at Talk:Manifold_Destiny#Birman_re-added should anyone wish to discuss any aspect of its reintroduction. --Tagishsimon (talk) 23:24, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Poincare conjecture controversy[edit]

The article mentions S.T. Yau's rebuttal to the New Yorker article, but the specific allegations in the New Yorker (e.g. the cartoon of Yau trying to take the Fields Medal away from Perelman) are never mentioned. The serious ethical questions raised by ST Yau's conduct cannot simply be ignored. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Senex101 (talkcontribs) 22:14, 6 January 2014 (UTC)