Agnes Scott College

Sun-Yung Alice Chang


March 24, 1948 -

Reprinted with permission from The Notices of the American Mathematical Society, April 1995, Vol. 42, No. 4, 459-460.

Sun-Yung Alice Chang was born on March 24, 1948, in Cian, China. She received her B.S. from National University of Taiwan (1970) and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (1974). She was an assistant professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo (1974-1975), then became Hedrick Assistant Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (1975-1977). She moved to the University of Maryland, College Park, where she was an assistant professor (1977-1980). At the University of California, Los Angeles, she was an associate and then a full professor (1980-). In 1988-1989 she was also a full professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Chang has served on various AMS committees and given several invited addresses at AMS meetings. She was also a speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians (Berkeley, 1986). She was a Sloan Fellow (1979-1980) and a member of the Board of Mathematical Sciences (1990-1992) of the National Academy of Sciences. She has served on the Advisory Panel for the Mathematical Sciences of the National Science Foundation (1990-1992) and on the selection committee for the Noether Lectures of the Association for Women in Mathematics (1991-1994).

Her research interests include the study of geometric type nonlinear partial differential equations and related extremal (Sobolev) in-equalities and problems in isospectral geometry.

The Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize is awarded to Sun-Yung Alice Chang for her deep contributions to the study of partial differential equations on Riemannian manifolds and in particular for her work on extremal problems in spectral geometry and the compactness of isospectral metrics within a fixed conformal class on a compact 3-mani fold.

It is an honor for me to receive the prize. Since all the work cited above is joint work with my coauthors (Paul Yang for the most part, but also Tom Branson and Matt Gursky), I would like to express my indebtedness to them. The problems which I have been working on in the past few years are mainly connected with the study of extremal functions of Sobolev inequalities. Such functions play an important role in the study of the blow-up phenomenon in a number of problems in geometry. Following the early work of J. Moser and influenced by the work of T. Aubin and R. Schoen on the Yamabe problem, P. Yang and I have solved the PDE of Gaussian/scalar curvatures on the sphere by studying the extremal functions for certain variation functionals. We have also applied this approach in conformal geometry to the iso spectral compactness problem on 3-manifolds when the metrics are restricted in any given conformal class. More recently we have been studying the extremal metrics for these functionals. We are working to derive further geometric consequences. This latter piece of work is a natural extension of the earlier work by Osgood-Phillips-Sarnak on the log-determinant functional on compact surfaces.

Since the Satter Prize is an award for women mathematicians, one cannot help but to reflect on the status of women in our profession now. Compared to the situation when I was a student, it is clear that there are now many more active women research mathematicians. I can personally testify to the importance of having role models and the companionship of other women colleagues. However, I think we need even more women mathematicians to prove good theorems and to contribute to the profession.

Sun-Yung Alice Chang presented the 2001 AWM Emmy Noether Lecture on "Nonlinear Equations in Conformal Geometry." Read her profile from the AWM website.

You can read an interview with Professor Chang from 2004 that was reprinted in the Asia Pacific Mathematics Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2012).

Chang was a professor of mathematics at Princeton University starting in 1998, serving as chair of the mathematics department from 2009 to 2012. In 2010 she was named the Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics at Princeton. In 2003 she was awarded an honorary Chair professorship in the Department of Mathematics of National Tsing-Hua University in Taiwan.


  1. "Focus on the Scientist: Sun-Yung Alice Chang", Emissary, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Spring 2016, page 3.
  2. MathSciNet [subscription required]
  3. Author Profile at zbMath
  4. Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. Biography at the MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive