Frederick Chong (1915-1999) was a noted Australian mathematician. The son of Chinese immigrants, he graduated with First Class Honours, and the University Medal, from the University of Sydney in 1935. In 1937 he received a Master of Science, also from the University of Sydney. After obtaining an MA from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in mathematics from Iowa State University, he was appointed lecturer in mathematics at the University of Sydney (1940) where he stayed until the mid 1950s. In 1956 he was appointed Chair of Mathematics at Auckland University, New Zealand.
In 1966 Chong was appointed Foundation Chair of Mathematics at the School of Mathematics and Physics of Macquarie University, where he had a profound influence. In this regard, he was instrumental in the appointment of John Clive Ward as Foundation Professor of Physics, and in the appointment of Ronald E. Aitchison, as Foundation Professor of Electronics.
At this stage, it is pertinent to indicate that Chong and the young physicist called John Ward became friends during Ward's brief teaching stay at the University of Sydney in the late 1940s. Indeed, it was Ward, with the support of Chong, that facilitated later the arrival of José Enrique Moyal to Macquarie as professor of mathematics (1972). This created the existence of a preeminent world-class mathematics-physics lineup, at Macquarie, without precedent in the academic history of Australia.
Chong designed the mathematics program at Macquarie and taught mainly Calculus I, Calculus II, and Fourier Theory. His lectures were highly cohesive and masterful... the epitome of transparency and sound mathematical knowledge. He spoke English in a very clear and deliberate manner as he wrote equations on the board whilst softly striking the hard floor, with the heels of his shiny black shoes, as he walked from board to board (he was always impeccably dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie). At the end of the second semester, while teaching Fourier Theory, he would invite the top students in his class to a superb and exquisite Chinese dinner, prepared by his family, at his very own house!
In the late 1970s, together with Ward and Aitchison, Chong was a strong supporter of The Macquarie Science Reform Movement that transformed the degree structure of the university.
The success of the Macquarie Science Reform Movement, in September 1979, greatly enhanced the scientific image of Macquarie in the community and made possible the scientific success of Macquarie. Chong retired from Macquarie in 1980. The University of Sydney awarded him a Doctor of Science in 1999.
He was respected and beloved by the maths staff and especially by his students. Today, in his honor, the courtyard of Building E7B is named the Frederick Chong Courtyard. Incidentally, it was there that The Macquarie Science Reform Movement was born in 1977.
Page published on the 25 of August, 2023
Updated on the 1st of September, 2023