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
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
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
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.