Ky Fan was born in Hangzhou, China on September 19, 1914. He enrolled in Peking University in 1932, and received his B.S. degree from
Peking
University in 1936. Initially Fan wanted to study engineering, but shifted to mathematics, largely because of the influence of his uncle
who
was a renowned mathematician in China and the Chair of the Department of Mathematics of Peking University.
Fan went to France in 1939 and received his D.Sc. under Frechet from the University of Paris in 1941. A member of the Institute for
Advanced
Study in Princeton from 1945 to 1947, he then joined the faculty of the University of Notre Dame, eventually becoming full professor. In
1965, Fan became professor of mathematics at UC Santa Barbara, retiring in 1985.
In addition to Frechet, Fan was also influenced by John von Neumann and Hermann Weyl. Fan made fundamental contributions to operator and
matrix theory, convex analysis and inequalities, linear and nonlinear programming, topology, and topological groups. His work in fixed
point
theory, in addition to influencing nonlinear functional analysis, has found wide application in mathematical economics and game theory,
potential theory, calculus of variations, and differential equations.
Fan had 21 graduate students, and 89 mathematical descendants. His 140 papers and books have been cited over 4000 times. Fan was elected
to
the Academia Sinica in 1964, and served as the director of its Institute of Mathematics in Taiwan from 1978 to 1984.
In 1999, Ky Fan and his wife made a gift of $1M to the American Mathematical Society to establish the Ky and YuFen Fan Endowment, to
foster
collaborations between Chinese mathematicians and those in other parts of the world. The Ky Fan Visiting Assistant Professorship in the
Mathematics Department is also due to his generosity.
