Female mathematician increases Vietnam’s image in France

Posted at: MONday - 24/11/2014 13:27 - post name: Cộng tác viên

Female mathematician increases Vietnam’s image in France

In early 1960s, although we were students of the Faculty of Literature of the Hanoi Pedagogical University, we always tried to attend mathematics class by Prof. Hoang Xuan Sinh.

We were not only impressed by her beauty but also by her confident and smart manner on the lecture dais.

Ignoring unsound customs to study

Prof. Dr. Hoang Xuan Sinh, who is also a people’s teacher, came from Cot village in Tu Liem district, Hanoi and lived her childhood in Hang Bong street. Her mother passed away when she was eight years old. Her father remarried a national capitalist who considered Sinh her own child. When Hanoi was still under the domination of the French colonialists, her family provided assistance to the Thanh Nghi Newspaper, a progressive newspaper in the city. Their house was also a meeting place of intellectuals such as Vu Dinh Hoe, Hoang Xuan Han, and Phan Anh. The little girl Sinh inherited the talent and dignity from her father and step-mother.

Sinh used to be a pupil of the well-known Trung Vuong Secondary School and finished it in 1948. At that time in Hanoi, there were only two high schools: the Trung Vuong High Schoolwas only for boys and the Lyceé Albert Sarraut High School was only for French children and pro-French senior officials’ children. She decided to apply for the Trung Vuong High School though it was a very big problem for a girl to study in the same school with boys. 

After Sinh finished High school in English and French, her uncle who was working for an aeroplane manufacturer in France brought her to Toulouse for her university and post-graduate mathematics study. In France, it was such a difficult major that many people could not graduate despite their lifelong study. Post-graduate study was only for the two honourable families: Marie Curie and Langevin. Sinh, with great effort and determination, completed her MA course when she was 26 and that was not only an honour for Vietnamese people but also for Toulouse University.

Honouring the country

Despite her promising scientific career, she and many other patriotic intellectuals in Francedecided to come back to Vietnam.

She said in 1959 when she was wondering whether to stay in France or come back toVietnam, she heard of a scientific magazine published in Hanoi informing her MA graduation in Paris.

“It really touched my heart,” she said, adding that such action reminded her of her homeland with unforgettable memories. It made her remember the time when Uncle Ho visited her secondary school and his teaching.

So I decided to come back, she said.

As soon as she was back in Hanoi, she started working as a teacher cum Head of the Algebra session of the Faculty of Mathematics, the Hanoi Pedagogical University.

Vietnam’s first female Mathematician

During the US war in Vietnam, she always remembered Uncle Ho’s teachings to overcome all difficulties and challenges to achieve greater success in teaching and learning. In an empty cottage on the bank of the Day river, she wrote her doctoral thesis before bringing it to Paris 7 University to protect. The success of the thesis finally made her the first mathematical doctor of the Republic of Vietnam.

With her special attention to Vietnam’s education, she founded the Thang Long University, the first private university in Vietnam. She is now President of the university’s management board and a member of the Vietnamese Kovalevskaya Award Committee. She was also Dead of the Vietnamese delegation at International Math Olympiads, former Vice President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee, member of the National Council for Science and Technology Policy, member of the National Council for Education, and member of the National Glossary Council.

In recognition of her contribution to scientific cooperation between Vietnam and France, she was presented the Order of the French Academic Palms.

Prof. Hoang Xuan Sinh, teacher of teachers, will be forever respected and admired by generations of students and teachers.

Source: Anninhthudo

Translated by D

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