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夏志宏:喜欢唱歌和垃圾食品的数学家文兰

►文兰(1946年3月-),数学家,北京大学教授,中国科学院院士,第三世界科学院院士

撰文 | 夏志宏

今天(作者注:3月14日)是好友文兰院士生日。两年前我们曾在南方科技大学召开了一个国际动力系统会议。我们趁那次机会庆祝几位著名数学家的寿辰,在南科大招待所举行了一个简单、欢快的活动。这是我主持活动的讲话。

参会者大多是外国人,此文是按西方习惯用英文写的。感谢赵梦女士的中文翻译。

I am delighted and honored to have the opportunity to host this celebration. We gather here todayto celebrate the birthdays of five great mathematicians. Professor Lan Wen for his 70th birthday and Professors Keith Burns, Konstantin Khanin, Carlangelo Liveraniand Sandro Vaienti for their 60th birthdays.

In old Chinses calendar, there are only 60 years. At year 60, it cycles back to zero. 60 means that life starts again. Today, we have one 10-year-old and four baby mathematicians. I’ll first spend a first minutes to make a few remarks about my friend of more than 30 years, Lan Wen. I’ll invite others to talk about these birthday babies. We will leave time for all of you to join us in the celebration.

I first met Lan at Northwestern in 1984, when we both began our graduate studies in dynamics. Lan was much older than 10 at the time, he was 38. I was 21. Despite of the age difference, that turned out to be the beginning of lifetime friendship. We were in the same area and we took many courses and shared many moments together.

Lan finished his Ph.D. in three years, in 1987. It’s a little embarrassing that it took me four years to finish. After a year teaching at Chicago State, Lan decided to return to China to teach at Peking University. He loved the country and became one of the first few to come back, when China was really a third world country.

Lan is a true mathematician. He was born on March 14, the Pi day. He is instrumental in building the dynamical systems research group in China. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences of China and the Third World Academy of Sciences. He had successfully served as the President of Chinese Mathematical Society. Rumor has it that he was very reluctant to take the position, but he was elected by the committee while he went to bathroom.

Besides mathematics, Lan loves junk food and he loves singing. We had many Big Macs at McDonald’s together, particularly the year we spent in Hong Kong together, visiting Steve Smale. He said he could have three meals a day at McDonald’s! Some yearsago, Lan hosted my colleague, Professor John Franks’ visit to Beijing. After all interesting meals as one can image in Beijing, John decided to treat Lanand his family, but on one condition, Lan had to pick a restaurant. To John’s surprise, Lan said Kentucky Fried Chicken!

Lan is a very good singer. During our graduate student days, every year, Lan would sing at math department’s Christmas Party. This tradition continued when Lan’s son, Jim Wen, joined the math department as a graduate student. We look forward to the day when Lan’s grandchildren join the math department at Northwestern!

Finally, Lan is gentle and caring, he earned great respect, both in and out of mathematics, by respecting others. Lan, thank you for your friendship and happy birthday!

我很高兴也很荣幸能有此机会主持本次庆宴。今天,我们齐聚一堂,共庆五位著名数学家的生日。他们分别是过七十大寿的文兰教授、过六十大寿的Keith Burns教授、Konstantin Khanin教授、Carlangelo Liverani教授以及 Sandro Vaienti 教授。

按中国古代历法,六十年一甲子。六十岁的生命将是一个崭新的开始。这么说来,今天我们有一位10岁的数学家和四位新生的数学家。我将首先用几分钟介绍一下与我相识愈三十年的好友文兰,再邀请大家为四位新生宝宝们致词。最后,我们将留下时间让大家一起庆祝。

我第一次见到文兰是在1984年,那年我们都刚到西北大学攻读动力系统专业博士研究生。那时文兰38岁,可比10岁要大不少。我那时21岁。尽管年龄上相差很大,但那却是我们这一辈子友谊的开始。因为学的是同样的专业,我们会一起上课,也经常一起玩耍。

文兰用了三年时间完成了博士学业,于1987年拿到了理学博士学位。说起来惭愧,我用了四年时间才拿到博士学位。文兰先在芝加哥州立大学教了一年书,然后决心回中国到北京大学任教。那时的中国真是一个第三世界国家,社会经济还很落后。但文兰深爱着这个国家,成为了回国效力的最早的那一批人之一。

文兰是一个真正的数学家。他出生于三月十四日,即圆周率日。他积极推动了中国动力系统研究团队的建设。他当选中国科学院院士及第三世界科学院院士。他也曾担任过中国数学会理事长,在任期间成绩突出。传闻他本人并不想当这个理事长,但委员会成员趁他去洗手间时将他选为理事长。

除了数学,文兰也喜欢唱歌和垃圾食品。我跟他一起去吃了很多次麦当劳的巨无霸汉堡。特别是我们一起在香港访问 Steve Smale 的那一年。他说他可以一日三餐都吃麦当劳!几年前,我的同事John Franks 教授访问北大。文兰接待了他,带他吃遍了北京的各色美食。而后,John 决定要回请文兰和他的家人,并让文兰自己选择吃什么。令 John 意想不到的是,文兰说那就吃肯德基吧!

文兰的歌唱得很好。我们在西北读研期间,每年数学系的圣诞晚会上文兰都会唱上一首。当文兰的儿子小文也进入西北大学数学系读研时,这个传统也延续到了小文的身上。我们可以期待文兰的孙儿孙女们也到西北大学数学系读书的那一天!

最后,文兰性格谦和体贴,始终以礼待人。无论在数学圈内还是圈外,他都备受尊敬,因为文兰尊敬他人。友情似佳酿,愈久弥香。谢谢你,文兰!生日快乐!

——2016.7.29晚 南科大专家公寓1号楼宴会厅

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