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Department of Mathematics



Peking University was the pioneer in China to carry teaching and research in the field of probability and statistics, appointing Pao-Lu Hsu as Professor of Mathematics in 1940 after he obtained his Ph.D. and D.Sc. from the University College London. Consequently a course in Mathematical Statistics was offered in 1940s, and the first graduate student finished in 1951 (but academic degree was not available until 1980). In the early 1950s, Professor Hsu run a seminar on Limit Theory at Peking University.

As part of the first national program on scientific development, the Division of Probability and Statistics was established at Peking University in 1956, with Professor Pao-Lu Hsu as the founding director, following the pattern of the Moscow State University. More than 50 senior students, as well as a few instructors, were summoned from Peking University, Nankai University and Sun Yat-Sen University to form the first training class, starting in the fall of 1956. Before the break of ‘Cultural Revolution’ in 1966, the program had developed a wide curriculum for eight classes in probability and statistics, with more than 200 students and 8 graduates who became the core force in conducting research and disseminating the knowledge of probability and statistics in China. In an era of pushing theory toward applications in the 1960s, a remarkable job of introducing the orthogonal experimental design to practices in industry was carried out by faculty and students of Peking University. In 1972 Professor Zepei Jiang (Tse-Pei Chiang), a prestigious scholar in probability and statistics, succeeded Hsu as the director of the Division. After ten years of the Culture Revolution, faculty members made a great effort to speed up the development.

The Division of Probability and Statistics was incorporated in 1985 as a department, which in turn expanded rapidly and developed into one of the top teams in probability and statistics in China, boasting its faculty and staff of 39 members. In 1991, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics of Peking University was also established and Professor Jiading Chen was appointed as the Chair of the Department and the Director of the Institute. The School of Mathematical Sciences in Peking University was formed in 1995 by merging the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Probability and Statistics, with Professor Zhi Geng as the new chair of the department and Professor Zhongjie Xie as the director of the institute. In 1997, a new department of Financial Mathematics was established with some young faculty members from the Department of Probability and Statistics.

Receiving a special grant, code-named the 985 program, from the central government, Peking University witnessed a period of rapid growth since 1999. The School of Mathematical Sciences moved into the new Science Building One in 2000, equipping every faculty member with an individual office. In particular, a new Center for Statistical Science at Peking University was established in July 2010, co-chaired by Professor Songxi Chen and Professor Zhi Geng, replacing the existing Institute of Mathematical Statistics and enhancing collaborations between the Department of Probability and Statistics and the Department of Business Statistics and Econometrics in the Guanghua School of Management. The Center is currently located in Building 32, Yan Dong Yuan, with a mission to nurture interdisciplinary collaborations and to attract outstanding researchers.

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