- Professor Han Qi Speaks at the ICM 2014 in Seoul
The 27th International Congress of Mathematicians (ICU) was held in Seoul, South Korea from 13-21 August, 2014. Professor Han Qi (Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, CAS) delivered an invited lecture (45 minutes) in the section of history of Mathematics. In this congress, Professor Yuan Yaxiang (Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science, CAS), and Professor Fang Fuquan (Capital Normal University, Beijing) were also invited to give 45-minute lectures respectively in the section of Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing and in the section of Geometry.
Entitled “Knowledge and power: A social history of the transmission of mathematics between China and Europe during the Kangxi reign (1662–1722)” Professor Han Qi’s lecture was divided into seven parts: 1) The Kangxi Emperor’s interest in European mathematics; 2) Mathematics as a tool to control and impress Chinese official scholars; 3) The political background to the launching of a new project; 4) The circulation and translation of mathematical books; 5) Chinese vs Western: The Kangxi Emperor’s interest in traditional mathematics; 6) Between Leibniz and Kangxi: Bouvet’s study of The Book of Changes and binary system; 7) Concluding remarks.
With abundant historical resources and an absorbing narrative, Professor Han Qi’s lecture systematically summarized recent studies, and investigated the social and cultural background of Sino-Western mathematical interactions in the Kangxi era. With scientific knowledge which was privately taught by the Jesuits, Kangxi Emperor showed off his mathematical ability at the court and impressed and controlled Chinese officials, so as to confirm his position of “Son of Heaven” and consolidate his political power. The lecture illustrated this very interesting story and aroused ardent interest and discussion among the audience.
Professor Han Qi has published on a wide range of topics in the history of science, including history of mathematics and astronomy, Sino-Western scientific relations, Chinese Christianity in Ming and Qing periods, and history of Chinese ancient printing and books. In particular, his researches on history of mathematics, Sino-Western scientific relations and Chinese Christianity have had widely influence in the international academia.
Held once every four years under the auspices of the International Mathematical Union, the International Congress of Mathematicians is the largest and highest-ranking conference in the mathematical community. The first Congress was held in Zürich in 1897. In 2002, Beijing hosted the Congress. Professor Han Qi was also interviewed by the EBS concerning the topics of comparison between and Chinese and Western mathematics in Seoul congress.