Vietnam's leading mathematicians, including world-renowned Fields Medal winner, Professor Ngo Bao Chau, have high expectations for development of the science in the country with the opening of an advanced research institute.
The Institute of Advanced Research in Mathematics is part of a US$34-million initiative to upgrade local mathematical skills and capacities by 2020. It was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on August 18.
The institute will aim "to improve mathematical research across the country, creating a new environment, and a new research space for mathematicians," Chau said at a press conference last Wednesday.
The conference was also attended by many leading mathematicians in the country.
The institute will operate under a "special" mechanism different from that of others in Vietnam, said Professor Ngo Viet Trung, chief of the Institute of Mathematics.
In fact, with greater autonomy, the institute will be managed by between three and five people and have very few permanent staff, said Le Tuan Hoa, chairman of the Vietnam Mathematical Society.
It will offer a place for researchers and university lecturers, including those from overseas, to work on their projects, Hoa said.
When they complete their research, the scientists will return to their organizations and play an important role in training younger scientists, Chau said.
Foreign mathematicians as well as scientists from other fields that are linked to mathematics will also be welcomed to work with the institute, he added.
The main idea is to create a "playground" where local mathematicians can work with their international counterparts, Chau said.
Such facilities would be one of the factors attracting Vietnamese scientists working overseas to return to Vietnam for their research, he stressed.
"And when they return, if they realize the working environment here has changed, the return will become their own need. Once one or two people come back first, more will do the same later."
While the research institute is being set up on similar lines as leading international ones, Chau said that its mechanisms are still waiting official approval from the Vietnamese government.
Hoa, meanwhile, said that Chau will support local mathematicians and fully participate in its affairs via e-mail and other forms of communication.
"I plan to work in Vietnam from June till August every year," said Chau, who started his tenure at the University of Chicago on Wednesday.
"During the school year, besides my main work at the University of Chicago, I will also make time to work more in Vietnam. My trips [between Vietnam and US] will be more frequent, when activities in Vietnam need my presence," he said.