I was delighted to receive a book from my great uncle, professor Dai Zhizhong, who is a famous mathematician. The book is on valuation theory, a branch of group and field theory. The book was written by him last year when he was 85 years old.
In 1940s, uncle Dai was the teaching assistant of another world famous mathematician, professor Chen Xingsheng. Chen served as vice president of the American Mathematical Society (1963-64) and was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1975 and the Wolf Prize in 1983.
I remembered visiting uncle Dai when I was 13 years old. I was really a country boy and he was the president of Jiangxi University at that time. I was very nervous and looked at him with great admiration. When I went to college, he wrote me a letter encouraging me “百尺竿头，更进一步”, meaning every success in the future. Once I asked him “shall we work on things only when we have strong motivation in them?” He replied “what would you do at times when you don’t have motivation?”. When I flipped through his book last night, I realized that for every theory he proved, it could take months or years of hard work. Nothing is more true in the saying “there is no shortcut in climbing the science mountain” when it comes to math.