Shiing-shen Chern at 93

Shiing-shen Chern, a Chinese-American mathematician famous for his breakthroughs in differential geometry, died Friday in the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin, the Xinhua News Agency reported. He was 93.

After studying at Beijing's Tsinghua University and the University of Hamburg, as well as in Paris, Chern taught during World War II both in China and at Princeton University in the United States.

After civil war broke out between the Communists and Nationalists, Chern moved abroad again, first back to Princeton and then to the University of Chicago, later becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. In 1960, he moved to the University of California at Berkeley, where a mathematics chair has been endowed in his name.

Chern returned to China after the death of the communist state's founder, Mao Zedong, in 1976, and in 1985 established the Institute for Mathematics at Nankai and served as its first director.

Chern's field of research led to the development of the later-named Chern characteristic classes in fiber spaces that came to play a role in a wide area of mathematics and mathematical physics. (Source: AP,, Dec. 3, 2004)

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