A section of the light-based quantum computer created by researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China. [Photo/Xinhua]
China's support for mathematics and applied mathematics research between this year and 2025 will be "unprecedented" because mathematicians can solve equations that are fundamental to overcoming major technology bottlenecks, an academician said.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has listed mathematics and its applications as a major national project during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period. The project is expected to receive 1.5 billion yuan ($231.9 million) in funding, said Yuan Yaxiang, a mathematician and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Yuan is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
"The policy and financial support for the field of mathematics and applied mathematics will be greatly improved between 2021 and 2025 compared with the past five years-it's unprecedented," he said ahead of the annual session of the CPPCC National Committee.
In addition to mathematicians, the project's team also includes experts from the 5G and logistics sectors, which are seeking mathematical answers that are important to core technologies.
"Mathematical research not only matters for overcoming current technology bottlenecks but also is crucial in ensuring that China will be one step ahead in technology development in global competition in the future," Yuan said.
Many countries may cut funding for science and technology development due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their economies, but China has increased its support for mathematical research, which says a lot, he said.
Many CPPCC National Committee members in the technology sector have said that boosting long-term support for basic scientific research, including mathematics, is key to ensuring China's place as an advanced country in science and technology.
"It's hard to produce scientific innovation with originality that impresses the world if China's basic sciences research is weak," Yuan said.
"We shouldn't find ourselves in the position of always trying to catch up with others and expect they are willing to share their core technologies with us.
"When the country is taking the lead in scientific and technological development in the world, it will then become truly strong."
Yuan also urged China to boost support for young mathematicians.
"Mathematics is a subject that requires imagination and wisdom. It's also physically demanding as it takes a long period of time to constantly focus on the same question," he said. "That's why many great findings are discovered by mathematicians in their 20s."
Instead of investing heavily in a small group of mathematicians, what China needs to do is to "cultivate the soil for many seeds of young mathematicians to grow freely", Yuan said.
He added that some young Chinese mathematicians and scientists had left for other countries because they preferred the scientific research environment there, but such a phenomenon was natural and shouldn't be exaggerated.
"I hope the public will learn more about young scientists who are doing an excellent job in China, which is on its way to becoming a country that is strong in science and technology," Yuan said.
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