On 7 December, invited by UIC President Professor Tang Tao and the Division of Science and Technology, Prof Xu Zongben, a member of Chinese Academy of Sciences, mathematician and expert of Signal and Information Processing, delivered a lecture on AI and Mathematics. In the talk, he analysed the close connections and interactions between AI and mathematics.

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Professor Xu was the Vice President of Xi'an Jiaotong University (XJTU), and now he is a professor in XJTU and has been long engaging in Applied Mathematics, Machine Learning, and Intelligent Information Processing and Data Science and Technology. He was the recipient of the National Natural Science Award of China, and the winner of CSIAM SuBuchin Prize in Applied Mathematics, and the IAITQM Richard Price Data Science Awards. He once delivered a 45-minute sectional talk at International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM 2010) upon the invitation of the congress committee.

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Prof Tang Tao (left) presents a souvenir to Prof Xu Zongben

Professor Xu illustrated his core point, which was the model-driven approach and data-driven approach of scientific research are not opposite, but complement to each other. He took machine learning/deep-learning as an example to analyse the close connections and interactions between AI and mathematics.

Prof Xu said that the AI in current research refers to a theory, method and application system that simulates, extends and expands the problem solving of biological intelligence. He believes that artificial intelligence is not only a technology but also a scientific thought. It is changing the way of production and the life of human beings, and it will inevitably affect people in terms of our way of thinking and scientific research.

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In the lecture, Prof Xu put forward five fundamental mathematical problems that need to be solved urgently in current AI research. These problems are not only the challenges posed by AI to mathematics but also the profound effect of mathematics on AI. Meanwhile, some principles and methods of AI also provide some specific enlightenment for mathematics research, and can even bring revolutionary influence.

At the Q&A session, teachers and students asked questions about their interest fields, and Prof Xu gave the answers one by one.

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One student asked that other than the essential machine learning knowledge they are studying currently, what else shall they learn for the future era of autonomous intelligent. Prof Xu answered that the future development of AI from automation to autonomy is a long process, and its required knowledge structure is also diverse and complex. He suggested that at this stage, students should pay more attention to learning from the teachers and the textbooks.

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Prof Xu and UIC faculty members

UIC provides programmes such as Data Science, Applied Mathematics, Computer Science and Technology. Moreover, there are research institutions which provides students with learning and practical opportunities in fields like AI. Meanwhile, a new UIC Industrial-University Research Collaboration Centre was set up in Zhuhai High-tech Zone, introducing talents, teams, and projects from emerging industries, and carrying out high-level scientific research cooperation in the fields of AI, scientific software and food safety.

Reporter: Ma Yiran
Photographer: Zhang Fan
Editors: Covee Wang, Deen He