• Dan Eady

Maths genius on his journey from Hong Kong to Berkeley, Harvard and understanding the universe

Updated: Dec 31, 2019


  • Raised in a two-room shack next to a pig-pen, and with no books, Shing-Tung Yau defied the odds to become one of the world’s most influential mathematicians

  • Honoured at 33 for his work on string theory, his interest in maths is wide-ranging. ‘Learning is but a peep into the vast unknown’, he writes in his autobiography

“You work really hard for a long time and eventually succeed in doing something that no one has done before – and perhaps something that no one thought could be done – does that make you a genius? Or just an overachieving drudge?”

This is a question Hong Kong-raised Shing-Tung Yau, one of the world’s most influential mathematicians, asks in The Shape of a Life, written with co-author Steve Nadis. Yau’s contributions in multiple areas of maths, particle physics and string theory have transformed human understanding of the universe.


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