Yitang Zhang

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhang (张).
Yitang Zhang
Zhang 2014 hi-res-download 3.jpg
Born 1955 (age 59–60)
Shanghai, China
Residence United States
Nationality United States
Fields Mathematics
Institutions University of New Hampshire (Lecturer 1999-2013; Professor 2014-present)
Alma mater Purdue University (PhD 1991)
Peking University (B.A. 1982; M.A. 1984) [1]
Thesis The Jacobian Conjecture And The Degree Of Field Extension (1992)
Doctoral advisor Tzuong-Tsieng Moh (Chinese: 莫宗堅) [2]
Known for Establishing the existence of an infinitely repeatable prime 2-tuple [3]
Notable awards Ostrowski Prize (2013)
Cole Prize (2014)
Rolf Schock Prize (2014)
MacArthur Fellowship (2014)
Academia Sinica Fellow (2014) [1]

Yitang "Tom" Zhang (Romanized form: Yitang Zhang, Chinese: 张益唐, Zhāng Yìtáng)[4] is a Chinese-born American mathematician working in the area of number theory. While working for the University of New Hampshire as a lecturer, Zhang submitted an article to the Annals of Mathematics in 2013 that established the first finite bound on gaps between prime numbers, leading to a 2014 MacArthur award and his appointment as a professor.[5][6]

Education[edit]

Zhang was born in Shanghai and lived there until he was 13 years old. At the age of 23, Zhang entered Peking University in 1978 as an undergraduate student and received his B.Sc. degree in mathematics in 1982. He became a graduate student of Professor Pan Chengbiao, a number theorist at Peking University, and obtained his M.Sc. degree in mathematics in 1984.[1]

After receiving his master's degree in mathematics, with recommendations from Professor Ding Shisun, the President of Peking University, and Professor Deng Donggao, Chair of the university's Math Department,[7] Zhang was granted a full scholarship by America's Purdue University. Zhang arrived at Purdue in January 1985, studied there for seven years, and obtained his Ph.D. in mathematics in December 1991.

Career[edit]

Zhang's Ph.D. work was on the Jacobian conjecture. After graduation, Zhang had a hard time finding an academic position. In an interview with Nautilus magazine, Zhang said he did not get a job after graduation because "during that period it was difficult to find a job in academics... Also, my advisor did not write me letters of recommendation."[8] Moh claimed that Zhang never came back to him requesting recommendation letters.[7] In a detailed profile published in The New Yorker magazine in February 2015, Alec Wilkinson wrote Zhang "parted unhappily" with Moh, "left Purdue without Moh’s support, and, having published no papers, was unable to find an academic job".[9] After some years, Zhang managed to find a position as a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire, where he was hired by Kenneth Appel in 1999. Prior to getting back to academia, he worked for several years as an accountant and a delivery worker for a New York City restaurant. He also worked in a motel in Kentucky and in a Subway sandwich shop.[3] He served as a lecturer at UNH from 1999[10] until around January 2014, when UNH appointed him to a full professorship.[11]

Research[edit]

On April 17, 2013, Zhang announced a proof that there are infinitely many pairs of prime numbers that differ by 70 million or less. This result implies the existence of an infinitely repeatable prime 2-tuple,[3] thus establishing a theorem akin to the twin prime conjecture. Zhang's paper was accepted by Annals of Mathematics in early May 2013.[5] The proof was refereed by leading experts in analytic number theory.[6]

If P(N) stands for the proposition that there is an infinitude of pairs of prime numbers (not necessarily consecutive primes) that differ by exactly N, then Zhang's result is equivalent to the statement that there exists at least one even integer k < 70,000,000 such that P(k) is true. The classical form of the twin prime conjecture is equivalent to P(2); and in fact it has been conjectured that P(k) holds for all even integers k.[12][13] While these stronger conjectures remain unproven, a recent result due to James Maynard, employing a different technique, has shown that P(k) for some k ≤ 600.[14] Subsequently, the Polymath project 8 lowered the bound to P(246).[15] P(6) is thought to be the best attainable with current methods, and in fact P(12) and P(6) follow using current methods if also the Elliott–Halberstam conjecture and its generalisation holds.[6][15]

Honors and awards[edit]

Zhang was awarded the 2013 Morningside Special Achievement Award in Mathematics,[16] the 2013 Ostrowski Prize,[17] the 2014 Frank Nelson Cole Prize in Number Theory,[11][18] and the 2014 Rolf Schock Prize[19] in Mathematics.

He is a recipient of the 2014 MacArthur award,[20] and was elected as an Academia Sinica Fellow during the same year.[1]

Political views[edit]

In 1989 Zhang joined a group interested in Chinese democracy (中国民联). In a 2013 interview, he affirmed that his political views on the subject hadn't changed since.[21][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Mathematics and Physical Sciences Yitang Zhang". sinica.edu.tw. 2014. 
  2. ^ Yitang Zhang at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ a b c Klarreich, Erica (May 19, 2013). "Unheralded Mathematician Bridges the Prime Gap". Quanta Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ "UNH Mathematician’s Proof Is Breakthrough Toward Centuries-Old Problem". University of New Hampshire. May 1, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Zhang, Yitang (2014). "Bounded gaps between primes". Annals of Mathematics 179 (3): 1121–1174. doi:10.4007/annals.2014.179.3.7. MR 3171761. Zbl 06302171.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ a b c Wilkinson, Alec. "The Pursuit of Beauty". The New Yorker (February 2, 2015). 
  7. ^ a b Moh, Tzuong-Tsieng. "Zhang, Yitang’s life at Purdue (Jan. 1985-Dec, 1991)" (PDF). Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Twin Prime Hero". Nautilus. 
  9. ^ http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/02/pursuit-beauty
  10. ^ Macalaster, Gretyl (December 14, 2013). "Math world stunned by UNH lecturer's find". New Hampshire Union Leader. 
  11. ^ a b "January 2014 AMS-MAA Prize booklet" (PDF). p. 7. 
  12. ^ McKee, Maggie (May 14, 2013). "First proof that infinitely many prime numbers come in pairs". Nature. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ Chang, Kenneth (May 20, 2013). "Solving a Riddle of Primes". The New York Times. Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  14. ^ Klarreich, Erica (2013-11-20). "Together and Alone, Closing the Prime Gap". Retrieved 2013-11-20. 
  15. ^ a b "Bounded gaps between primes". Polymath. Retrieved 2013-07-21. 
  16. ^ "ICCM 2013: Morningside Awards". 
  17. ^ "The 2013 Ostrowski Prize". 
  18. ^ "Yitang Zhang Receives 2014 AMS Cole Prize in Number Theory". 
  19. ^ "The 2014 Rolf Schock Prize". 
  20. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (September 17, 2014). "MacArthur Awards Go to 21 Diverse Fellows". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ "The Pursuit of Beauty". The New Yorker. Feb 2, 2015. Retrieved Jun 30, 2015. 
  22. ^ "张益唐问答录" (in Chinese). Jul 1, 2013. Retrieved Jun 30, 2015. 

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