The joy of mathematics – this is what the biennial Hang Lung Mathematics Awards (HLMA), now in its seventh cohort, is all about.
This year’s Gold Award went to Bishop Hall Jubilee School and the winning student Leung Sun-kai’s topic is “On the Summation of Fractional Parts and its Application”.
Leung, who is now a first-year student of enrichment mathematics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), began his research on the topic when he’s a Form 4 student. Throughout the following two years, Leung continuously refined his idea and completed the project in Form 6. “Sometimes I felt frustrated when I came across tough challenges and thought of giving up,” Leung said. “But I persevered and would seek references from books by top mathematicians to identify possible solutions.”
Motivated by his passion for mathematics, Leung would pore over books by great mathematicians when he’s still a secondary school student. He sees the beauty of mathematics and considers it an art form. “I enjoy developing solutions and working on the highly complex calculations built upon accumulated ideas and inspirations,” Leung said. “When a solution is discovered, it’s not unlike musical notes falling into place to form a symphony.”
As the Gold Award winner for this year’s HLMA, Leung felt encouraged by the honour and the recognition from leading mathematicians. “Based on the conclusion of my winning research project, I hope I will be able to further develop the theory into a more sophisticated one,” he added. “My goal is to further my study and attain advanced degrees in mathematics. I hope to make some contributions to the field.”
The adjudicators were thrilled by the participants’ level of sophistication. Prof Yau Shing-Tung, Chairman of the HLMA Scientific Committee, 1982 Fields Medalist, the William Caspar Graustein Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University and Director of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences at CUHK, commended the performance of Leung. “The topic of number theory has evolved over a century and it requires excellent analytical prowess and in-depth knowledge. We are impressed with Leung’s abilities developed at such a young age. He retained his own ideas while applying others’ theories and arrived at a unique conclusion.”
Prof Yau Shing-Tung also remarked at the awards presentation ceremony, “The students’ achievements are amazing. The Gold Award winner is even better than many undergraduates of Harvard University. Many Hong Kong students have made great academic progress in the past 10 years and they are on par with the best from around the world.”
Another co-founder of HLMA, Mr Ronnie C Chan, Chairman of Hang Lung Properties stated at HLMA’s awards presentation ceremony, “The Awards is in its seventh edition. Hopefully the winners will go on to win other prestigious international mathematics awards. We have high hopes for Hong Kong’s youth. Even for those who do not win, they have experienced the beauty of mathematics. They’ll make life beautiful and the society will benefit.”
Guest-of-honour of the awards presentation ceremony, Chief Secretary for Administration of the Government of the HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam, also highlighted her deep personal connection she has with mathematics – her husband is a mathematician and her elder son also graduated with a first degree in mathematics. “Mathematics is much more than an academic subject to tackle at school or in contests ... it is pivotal to the development and advancement of civilisations,” she noted. “Engaging students in actively applying mathematics in expertly designed activities or competitions helps nurture their minds. The HLMA emphasises mathematical insight, creativity and originality.
Founded by Hang Lung Properties along with the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Department of Mathematics of CUHK, HLMA aims to stimulate secondary school students’ thinking and creativities and to realize their potentials in mathematics and science. The Awards has benefited about 2,000 secondary school students since 2004.
This year, nearly 240 students from close to 80 teams representing 60 secondary schools participated in the Awards. Their research reports were assessed by the Scientific Committee comprising of international mathematicians for academic quality, after which 12 potential teams were shortlisted for oral defense. The Scientific Committee then determined the winners of Gold, Silver, Bronze and up to five Honorable Mentions.
Making mathematics fun with Facebook KOLs
The dedicated Facebook fan page of the Awards demonstrates that mathematics and science, explained with the use of video clips, animations and lively voice-over, can be highly relevant, dynamic and thought-provoking. Reaching an audience of over 2 million, the page has attracted over 10,500 total-page “likes” since its launch in February 2016, with some feeds achieving YouTube’s top 10 in Hong Kong.
The ”Hang Lung Mathematics Awards – To Infinity” Facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/hkhlma/) has also won the Silver Stevie Award under the category of Communications or PR Campaign of the Year – Sponsorship at the 13th Annual International Business Awards.
To date, the fan page has broadcasted about 100 feeds to feature mathematics concepts and quotes using easy-to-understand examples and daily phenomenon, encouraging students to take up challenges and come up with solutions. The page features popular figures in the Internet world demonstrating the application of mathematical concepts in daily lives, as well as games and videos created in collaboration with key opinion leaders.
The vivid presentation targeting young people has become immensely popular among local students and teachers alike.
With the aim to maximize joy brought about by mathematics, Hang Lung Properties hopes to help students understand the importance of mathematics in life, thereby opening up minds to a magnificent world.