First of all sorry for this non-research post.

I was watching Jeffrey Blitz Lucky documentary movie and it was interesting to me that a winner of Lottery was a math Ph.D. from Berkeley.

In the movie he said:

Robert: ... when I was in Berkeley, I had good fortune to take a course in differential geometry from professor S. S. Chern because loving the class but more to the point I was getting inspired about differential geometry because the way Chern taught.

There are lots of articles on the web about Chern's research, works, life and I remember someone called him a legendary mathematician.

But I want to know what is so special about Chern's way of teaching? Or the above compliment is because of the intrinsic enjoyment of differential geometry that he is relating to Chern? I am curious to know some examples of Chern's teaching that you are aware of.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This would be a more natural fit for matheducators.SE. $\endgroup$
    – user21349
    Nov 4, 2021 at 19:39
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ since this question is about "teaching how to do math research", I would consider it on-topic here; I looked at the matheducators site, that seems to address teaching at the non-research level. $\endgroup$ Nov 5, 2021 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloBeenakker: Do you know the full name of Robert? $\endgroup$
    – C.F.G
    Nov 8, 2021 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ yes, it's Robert Uomini, I have added some relevant info to my answer. $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2021 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


Louis Auslander has described his experiences on S.S. Chern as a teacher:

Somehow Chern conveyed the philosophy that making mistakes was normal and that passing from mistake to mistake to truth was the doing of mathematics. And somehow he also conveyed the understanding that once one began doing mathematics it would naturally flow on and on. Doing mathematics would become like a stream pushing one on and on. If one was a mathematician, one lived mathematics.... and so it has turned out [for me].

Robert Uomini set aside money from the $22 million lottery jackpot he won in 1995 to endow a visiting professorship in the Department of Mathematics in honor of mathematics professor Shiing-Shen Chern, who he credits for getting him into graduate school.

This is how he remembers Chern:

"I loved his lectures," Uomini said. He found Chern's undergraduate course in differential geometry so exciting and stimulating that "by the end of the class I felt I wanted to become a differential geometer."

As he completed his coursework for an A.B. in mathematics in 1969, Uomini applied to graduate school at Berkeley, but despite a letter from Chern he was turned down, primarily because of his poor grades. Chern urged him to reapply, though, and this time, with Chern's strong support, he got in. Uomini completed his PhD work in 1976.

"I got in only because of Chern," Uomini said. "Since my graduation, in order to recognize my indebtedness to Chern, I wanted to create a chair in his name."

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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of one of my favorite "Grooks" by Piet Hein. THE ROAD TO WISDOM The road to wisdom? - Well, it's plain and simple to express: Err and err and err again but less and less and less. $\endgroup$
    – Louis D
    Nov 4, 2021 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ The added info is so interesting. Now I understand why he is very thankful to Chern. $\endgroup$
    – C.F.G
    Nov 8, 2021 at 8:27

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