There is a world-class, award-winning mathematician right in our midst – Professor Yun Gao, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Arts.

Gao was one of two mathematicians selected last year by the Chinese Academy of Science to be named Outstanding Chinese Scholars Overseas. The honour carries with it a grant of two million Chinese yuan (approximately $360,000) for the next three years. With the funding, Gao plans to collaborate and organize a variety of conferences and seminars in China, and sponsor visitors and postdoctoral Fellows.

Gao”s research interests are around infinite dimensional Lie algebras and their quantum analogues. What is that? It has been explained this way: Marius Sophus Lie was a 19th-century Norwegian mathematician who was the first to study certain types of symmetries. His investigations led to one of the major branches of 20th-century mathematics, the theory of Lie groups and Lie algebras. Over the last 20 years, the infinite dimensional versions of these algebras have become central to understanding the mathematics of quantum theory.

Irrespective of such applications, these algebras have an elegant theory of their own, and have surprising connections to many other areas of pure mathematics, for example, in combinatorics and in number theory.

Gao will continue his research into the structure and representations of these algebras, with particular focus on their symmetry properties. He will be working to finish a monograph on this subject, to be published by the Fields Institute, a Canadian centre for mathematical research activity.