Professors have solved problem that has baffled mathematicians for a century Mainland mathematicians who helped crack a 'millennium math problem' will present the methodology and findings to physicist Stephen Hawking during his visit to Hong Kong, which starts today. Cao Huaidong, of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, and Zhu Xiping, of Sun Yat-sen University, have recently put the finishing touches to the complete proof of the Poincare Conjecture and published a paper in the Asian Journal of Mathematics this month. Yau Shing-tung, who organised Professor Hawking's visit and is also Professor Cao's teacher, said yesterday he would present the findings to Professor Hawking because he believed the knowledge would help his research into the formation of black holes. But Professor Yau, a leading mathematician at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Professor Hawking's research into relativity and black holes was more difficult than finding proof for the Poincare Conjecture, which deals with three-dimensional structures. The conjecture, which French mathematician and theoretical physicist Henri Poincare stated in a paper in 1904, involves his proposition without proof that if every closed path in a three-dimensional space finally shrinks to a point, the space must be a sphere. Mathematicians have tried ever since to prove it, with American Richard Hamilton and Russian Grigori Perelman considered to have made the biggest contributions. It is one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems for which Cambridge University's Clay Mathematics Institute is offering a US$1 million prize for a solution. The professors are awaiting adjudication on the prize. 'We hope to integrate the methodology and latest result in other applied mathematics like engineering,' Professor Yau said. 'The Poincare Conjecture can also help explain particle movement and the formation of black holes.' He criticised the Hong Kong government and universities for not supporting science research. 'They are short-sighted and want immediate returns. Actually, science research does not require a great deal of money,' he said. Professor Zhu, a visiting scholar at CUHK, said research was part of his life and a way of relaxing. He started studying the conjecture in 1996 and took six years to get closer to the solution. Professor Hawking, lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, is to deliver a public lecture at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on Thursday.