The Shape of a Life: One Mathematician’s Search for the Universe’s Hidden Geometry
A Fields medalist recounts his lifelong transnational effort to uncover the geometric shape—the Calabi-Yau manifold—that may store the hidden dimensions of our universe.
Harvard geometer and Fields medalist Shing-Tung Yau has provided a mathematical foundation for string theory, offered new insights into black holes, and mathematically demonstrated the stability of our universe. In this autobiography, Yau reflects on his improbable journey to becoming one of the world’s most distinguished mathematicians. Beginning with an impoverished childhood in China and Hong Kong, Yau takes readers through his doctoral studies at Berkeley during the height of the Vietnam War protests, his Fields Medal–winning proof of the Calabi conjecture, his return to China, and his pioneering work in geometric analysis. This new branch of geometry, which Yau built up with his friends and colleagues, has paved the way for solutions to several important and previously intransigent problems. With complicated ideas explained for a broad audience, this book offers readers not only insights into the life of an eminent mathematician, but also an accessible way to understand advanced and highly abstract concepts in mathematics and theoretical physics.
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