Chen Ning Yang

Introducing Yang-Mills theory (eventually: quantum chromodynamics):


On Yang-Mills theory (gauge theory) being about connections on principal bundles/fiber bundles:

Yang wrote in C. N. Yang, Selected papers, 1945-1980, with commentary, W. H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, 1983, on p. 567:

In 1975, impressed with the fact that gauge fields are connections on fiber bundles, I drove to the house of S. S. Chern in El Cerrito, near Berkeley… I said I found it amazing that gauge theory are exactly connections on fiber bundles, which the mathematicians developed without reference to the physical world. I added: “this is both thrilling and puzzling, since you mathematicians dreamed up these concepts out of nowhere.” He immediately protested: “No, no. These concepts were not dreamed up. They were natural and real.”

Yang expanded on this passage in an interview recorded as

  • D. Z. Zhang, C. N. Yang and contemporary mathematics, The Mathematical Intelligencer 15, 13–21 (1993) (doi:10.1007/BF03024319):

[[This]] was not just joy. There was something more, something deeper: After all, what could be more mysterious, what could be more awe-inspiring, than to find that the structure of the physical world is intimately tied to the deep mathematical concepts, concepts which were developed out of considerations rooted only in logic and the beauty of form?

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Last revised on October 17, 2020 at 12:03:40. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.