Science Master Active in the Pursuit of Truth

/ Chung-Laung Liu

Chung-Laung Liu’s tall height, good looks, full-head of grey hear, and sparkling wit always left a memorable impression on people. To NCKUers, he was an extinguished alumnus of the Department of Electrical Engineering at NCKU (which was the Taiwan Provincial Tainan Junior College of Technology at the time). To computer and electrical engineering experts, he was an internationally-renowned computer scientist who was a fellow of both the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He received various IEEE Technical Achievement Awards, was the first Kwoh-Ting Li Forum professor at NCKU, was elected a member of the Academia Sinica in 2000, and won the Phil Kaufman Award, which is referred to as the “Nobel Prize of the electronic design automation industry”, in 2011. He passed away on November 7, 2020.

AI Master with a Profound Impact on Modern Electronic and Electrical Science

Chung-Laung Liu’s are well-known all over the world. He made major contributions in fields such as real-time systems, computer-aided design, VLSI layout, combinatorial optimization, and discrete mathematics that still wield a profound impact on modern electronic and electrical science. Upon his death, NCKU president Dr. Huey-Jen Jenny Su praised that this senior alumnus’s achievements have set extremely high standards. NCKU vice president Dr. Cheng-Wen Wu affirmed, “He is a true AI master.”

Having served as the president of National Tsinghua University, people are accustomed to referring to Chung-Laung Liu as President Liu. Born in Guangzhou, Guangdong, he and his family moved to Taiwan when his father served in the air force, and he gained admission to the Taiwan Provincial Tainan Junior College of Technology. Planning to be reformed as Taiwan Provincial Cheng Kung University in August the year he was to graduate, the college took up the suggestion that that year’s graduation be postponed. Regarding this, Chung-Laung Liu laughed, “So we call ourselves Cheng Kung University’s first graduates!”

After completing reserved military officer service, Chung-Laung Liu went on to obtain his master’s degree and doctorate in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and then served as associated provost, first at MIT and later at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In recollection, he once said, “At the time, I felt that research was fun and full of delight; there were always new discoveries, so I just kept following that path.” In a blink of an eye, he had worked in the field of electrical engineering for six decades. In 1998, he came back to Taiwan and served as the president of National Tsinghua University. Later, he was also a director of the board at Macronix International Co., Ltd., and chairman of the board at TrendForce Corporation. He worked to promote the visibility of business think tanks and intellectual property in the Taiwanese and international markets.

Chung-Laung Liu attributed his smooth progress at MIT to his four years at NCKU. He thanked, “I received the best education in the world at Cheng Kung University, and it provided me with a sound foundation.” He picked up good learning methods, formed good studying habits, and developed an interest in learning. As a result, his first experience with computers when he studied in the United States was not difficult.

Chung-Laung Liu recalled, “I benefited from many good teachers during my time at Cheng Kung University.” His calculus professor Ping-Chang Fan left a deep impression on him, requiring students to present various ways to solve each problem. This had a major influence on Chung-Laung Liu. He said, “You must know different ways to solve the same problem.” He realized that this was a learning technique as well as a way of life.

Shared New Knowledge and Popular Science via Radio and Published 13 Books in 14 Years

Electrical engineering is not the only place where Chung-Laung Liu’s achievements lie. He also promoted scientific knowledge to everyday life. After retiring from National Tsinghua University, Chung-Laung Liu hosted “I Love to Chat, You Love to Laugh”, a program on the radio broadcasting station, IC Broadcasting, in Hsinchu. In this program, he enthusiastically discussed various topics in science as well as humanities, economics, and life science. The program was quite popular, and its contents have been compiled into 13 books published over the course of 14 years. He has thus made substantial contributions in promoting popular science!

One of these books, From Wheels to Nobel: Innovative Inventions Schools Don’t Teach About, won the Silver Award in the Original category of the Wu Ta-You Popular Science Book Awards in 2018. Chung-Laung Liu encouraged younger generations to pursue a wide range of interests, have keen senses and a strong ability to associate, investigate thoroughly, demand perfection, and, most importantly, adopt a humble attitude in learning.

Like a shining star in the sky, Chung-Laung Liu lit up the night sky of AI. His wit and diligence have made him a model for future generations to learn from and a forever pride of NCKU! (Source of image: CommonWealth Magazine)

NCKUers |
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Achievements |

Chung-Laung Liu (October 25, 1934-November 7, 2020)

Department of Electrical Engineering, Class of 1956

・Elected fellow of both the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

・Elected academician of the Academia Sinica in 2000

・Received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Conference on VLSI Design in 2005

・Received the Phil Kaufman Award, which is referred to as the “Nobel Prize of the electronic design automation industry”, in 2011

・Received the ACM SIGDA Pioneering Achievement Award in 2016

・Received the EDAA Achievement Award from the DATE 2017 Conference in Europe in 2017

Department of Mechanical Engineering Class 1956

Dr. Richard Chao-Fan Chu

An Academia Sinica Academician
Department of Architecture Class 1957

Ran-Chi Wu

Founder of the Ran-Chi Wu Architecture and Education Foundation