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(Feng Kang   1920-1993)

 

Mr. Kang FENG, Member of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Professor and Honorary Director of the Computing Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, famous mathematician and physicist, founder and pioneer of Chinese computational mathematics, died on Aug 17, 1993 in Beijing at the age of 73.

Kang Feng was born on Sept 9, 1920 in Nanjing. He was enrolled to Department of Mathematics and Physics of Fujian Concord College in spring 1939. In autumn 1939 he was admitted to Department of Electrical Engineering of the National Central University in Chongqin, two years later he was transferred to the Department of Physics where he studied until his graduation in 1944. From 1945 to 1951, he worked as assistant lecturer at Department of Physics of Fudan University, Department of Physics and Department of Mathematics of Tsinghua University. In 1951 he was appointed as assistant professor at Institute of Mathematics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. From 1951 to 1953 he worked at Steklov Mathematical Institute in Moscow, under the supervision of Professor L.S. Pontrjagin. In 1957 he was elected as an associate professor at Institute of Computer Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he began his work on computational mathematics and became the founder and leader of computational mathematics and scientific computing in China. In 1978 he was appointed as the first Director of the newly founded Computing Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences until 1987 when he became the Honorary Director. Professor Feng worked very hard, obtained many important results. He was well respected and highly praised by scientists in China and abroad. In 1959 he was elected as one of the National Outstanding Scientists. In 1965 he was elected as a member of the National People's Congress of China. In 1979 he was elected as one of the National Model Workers. In 1980 he was elected as a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was the vice president of Chinese Computer Society (78--86), president (85--90) and honorary president (90--93) of Chinese Society of Computational Mathematics, member of the Founding Council of International Association of Computational Mechanics (82--86), member of International Society for Interaction of Mechanics & Mathematics (88--93), member of the Scientific Advisory Board of International Center for Mathematical Sciences in Edinburgh (91--93). He was the chief editor of "Chinese Journal of Numerical Mathematics and Applications" (Allerton Press), "Journal of Computational Mathematics" (VSP, the Netherlands), "Computational Mathematics" (in Chinese) and "Numerical Computations and Applications of Computer" (in Chinese). He was a member of Editorial Board of "Journal of Computational Physics" (Academic Press), "Computer Methods in Applied Mechanics & Engineering" (North-Holland), "Impact of Computing in Science and Engineering" (Academic Press), etc. He was one of the vice editors of Chinese Encyclopedia (Mathematics Section). He was the leading Scientist of China State Key Project for Basic Research: "Large-scale Scientific and Engineering Computing" (91--93), and the chairman of the Scientific Committee of the State Key Laboratory for Scientific and Engineering Computing (92--93).

Professor Feng's scientific contributions are outstanding and range many fields. Before 1957 he mainly worked on pure mathematics, specially on Topological groups, Lie groups and generalized function theory. From 1957 he changed to applied mathematics and computational mathematics. Because of his sound and broad knowledge in mathematics and physics, he did a series of historical and pioneer research on computational mathematics.

In the later 50s and early 60s, based on the computations of dam constructions, Professor Feng proposed a systematic numerical method for solving partial differential equations. The method was called ``Finite difference method based on variation principle''. This method was also independently invented in the west, calling ``finite element method''. Now it is regarded that the invention of finite element method is a milestone of computational mathematics. In 70s Professor Feng gave embedding theories in the discontinuous finite element space, and generalized classical theory on elliptic equation to various dimensional combination, which provided a mathematical foundation for elastic composite structures.

Also in the 70s, he made great efforts and contributions in reducing elliptic equation to boundary integral equation. He gave natural boundary element method, which is now regarded as one of three main boundary element methods. From 1978 he had given lectures and seminars on finite elements and natural boundary elements in more than ten universities and institutes in France, Italy, Japan, USA, and was highly praised.

From 1984 Professor Feng changed his research field from elliptic equation to dynamics systems such as Hamiltonian systems and wave equations. He proposed symplectic algorithms for Hamiltonian systems based on symplectic geometry. Such algorithms can preserve symplectic geometric structure of Hamiltonian systems. He then led and supervised a research group on the symplectic algorithms for Hamiltonian systems with finite and infinite dimensions, and on dynamical systems with Lie algebraic structures, such as contact systems, source free systems, etc., from the view point of the corresponding geometry and Lie algebra-Lie group. These algorithms have overwhelmingly superior to conventional algorithms in long term tracking and qualitative simulation in many practice applications, such as celestial mechanics, molecular dynamics, etc. He is the pioneer of this vivid field and has founded the new direction full of hope and prospects.

Because of his outstanding scientific contributions, he was awarded many prizes, including Second Prize of National Natural Science Award, Second Prize of National Technology Advances, First Prize of Natural Science Award of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Besides his scientific researches, Professor Feng had many administration duties. He spent a lot of time to supervise students. Early in 60s, he lectured over 200 people modern computational methods and supervised their researches. Now many of these people are leading computational mathematicians in China. Professor Feng made great efforts in educating young people. His students are now all over the world, some of them are already very famous in the field.

Professor Feng paid much attention to the development of computational mathematics in China, he gave many important proposals. He wrote to the leaders of the Chinese government and suggested that scientific and engineering computing should be stressed as a key basic research area in China. He played an irreplaceable role in the development of scientific and engineering computing and made great contributions in promoting applications of computational mathematics to the four modernizations of our country. ``Scientific and Engineering Computing'' is now one of the national key projects on basic research, professor Feng was the leading scientist of this project.

 

 


FOR MORE INFORMATION
CONTACT:

Institute of Computational Mathematics and Scientific/Engineering Computing

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Beijing China 100190

PHONE: 86-10-82541031

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Last modified 30 Aug.2015.