Newsletter No. 50

CUHK newsletter World's Best Mathematicians Here to Tackle Fermat'sLast Theorem Seventeenth centur y Frenc h mathematician Pierre de Fermat claime d tha t he ha d solve d a fundamenta l proble m concerning th e equation X n + Y n =Z n . When n equal s 2 , i t become s the famou s Pythagorea n theore m 3 2 +4 2 =5 2 . Bu t whe n n i s a whol e number greate r tha n 2 , th e equatio n no longer holds. While Fermat claimed that h e ha d successfull y worke d ou t a proof fo r this, he never really divulge d his proof. For 35 0 year s sinc e th e proble m has baffle d th e world' s to p mathematicians. Last summer, Prof. Andrew Wile s of Princeto n Universit y announce d a series o f result s relatin g t o Fermat' s theorem. Thi s ha s cause d a sti r i n th e scientific community , an d a n international conference wa s hel d o n th e CUHK campu s fro m 18t h t o 21s t December 199 3 t o stud y Wiles ' findings. The functio n brough t togethe r 13 distinguishe d expert s an d numbe r theorists fro m USA , UK , France , Germany an d Russia , wit h Prof . S . T. Ya u o f th e Departmen t o f Mathematics as convener . Th e mai n them e of th e conferenc e wa s t o investigat e the celebrate d conjectur e tha t al l elliptic curve s ove r th e rationa l fiel d are modular , an d th e implication s o f this conjectur e fo r Fermat' s las t theorem. To introduce to the general publi c the lates t development s i n numbe r theory, thre e publi c lecture s wer e organized i n additio n t o technica l plenary addresses . Th e conferenc e attracted som e 20 0 member s o f th e public. The functio n als o serve d t o inaugurate the University's Institut e o f Ma t hema t i cal Science s an d wa s sponsored b y the S. H. Ho Foundation . New Plan s in Faculty of Engineering Effective from the 1994-9 5 academi c year, th e Departmen t o f System s Engineering i n th e Facult y o f Engineering will b e rename d th e Department of System s Engineerin g and Engineerin g Management . Th e existing integrativ e engineerin g programme will als o b e broke n u p int o four programme s o f studies , namel y computer engineering , electroni c engineering, informatio n engineering , and system s engineerin g an d engineering management. Whil e th e fou r programmes wil l continu e t o shar e common courses , the y wil l admi t students separatel y fro m 1995-96 . The faculty also plans to introduc e a ne w programm e o f mechanica l engineering fro m 1994-95 . Degree Programme in Primary Education to be Introduced The Facult y o f Educatio n wil l offe r a full-tim e pre-servic e bachelo r o f education programm e i n primar y education fro m 1994-95 . Th e ne w programme i s speciall y designe d fo r holders o f a teacher' s certificat e from a recognize d Colleg e o f Educatio n t o top u p thei r trainin g an d educatio n t o degree level . Th e lengt h o f stud y i s two years . This i s par t o f th e University' s effort to improv e teache r educatio n i n the territor y an d th e programm e wil l last until the new Institute of Education is ready t o run degre e programme s o n its own . New Centr e to Promote Mushroom Biotechnolog y The Universit y recentl y receive d US$48,830 fro m th e Unite d Nation s Industrial Developmen t Organizatio n (UNIDO) t o se t up a Centre fo r International Services t o Mushroo m Biotechnology t o strengthe n facilitie s fo r research o n mushrooms . Prof . S . T . Chang o f th e Departmen t o f Biolog y will serv e a s the centre's firs t director, and Dr . J . A . Buswell , a s deput y director. The centre' s firs t tas k wil l b e t o develop a Mushroo m Biotechnolog y Database an d Informatio n Networ k (MUSHNET) fo r th e collectio n an d dissemination o f informatio n relatin g to mushroo m productio n an d mushroom biotechnology. A Mushroo m Depository an d Geneban k fo r th e conservation o f mushroo m geneti c resources wil l als o be established. Th e centre will provide technology transfe r NO.50JANUAR Y 1994 2