Tao Wang

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BEIJING JIAOTONG UNIVERSITY Peking University Stanford University

Mu-Tao Wang is a Taiwanese mathematician and current professor of mathematics at the University of Columbia.

In 1984, originally for international business, he entered the National University of Taiwan, and after a year he switched to mathematics. He received his B.S. in Mathematics from the National University of Taiwan in 1988 and his M.S. degree from the same institution in 1992. His thesis “Generalized harmonic maps and representations of discrete groups” was awarded by a PhD in Mathematics at Harvard University in 1998. His thesis counselor at Harvard was the Chinese Fields Medalistic and the Shing-Tung Yau differential geometer.

Wang became an Associate Professor at the Columbia Faculty in 2001 and a full Professor in 2009. Wang was an assistant professor at Stanford University before joining the faculty in Columbia. From 2003–2005 he was a Sloan Research Fellow. In 2007 he was awarded the Chern Prize as the Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. In 2010, Wang was a Plenary Speaker in the International Congress of Chinese Mathematicians at the International Congress of Chinese Mathematicians and a Plenary Speaker in the International Congress of mathematical physics at the International Congress on Mathematical Physics. In addition, he also spoke plenary at the International Conference on Differential Geometry in 2011. After winning the Morningside Medal, Wang told interviewers that he wasn’t a very good student and didn’t consistently grade well. It has struggled to study topics that did not only interest him for the grade, but spends a lot of time on topics that interest him. He credits his mathematical career to two persons: his mother and his thesis consultant Shing-Tung Yau. He cites the support of his mother and understands her decision to change to Mathematics in universities, despite being a considerably less lucrative field, and describes Yau as the pivotal point of his life in 1992 when he decided to focus primarily upon mathematics research.

Wang’s research focuses on differential geometry and mathematical physics and on general relativity in particular. He studied extensively the greater co-dimensional flow of the mean curvature, leading to criteria for existence, regularity and convergence of the flow. In the field of general relativity, he is known especially for his work on quasilocal mass energy; in his honour, the near-local mass of Wang-Yau is named.

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