A Great Scientist Dedicated to the Pursuit of Truth
/ Chung-Laung Liu / Member of Academia Sinica
Academician Chung-Laung Liu was an internationally-renowned computer scientist with profound impact on modern electronic and electrical science. He won the Phil Kaufman Award, which is referred to as the “Nobel Prize of the electronic design automation industry,” in 2011. After retiring from National Tsinghua University, Liu hosted a program on the radio, promoting applications of scientific knowledge to everyday life. He published 13 books over the course of 14 years. He has thus made substantial contributions to promoting popular science.
AI Master with a Profound Impact on Modern Electronic and Electrical Science
Academician Liu made a lasting impression on us with his tall and handsome appearance, wisdom and wit, and sense of humor. To NCKU alumni, he was a distinguished alumnus of the Department of Electrical Engineering at NCKU (at the time of Taiwan Provincial Tainan Junior College of Technology). 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 Academia Sinica in 2000, and won the Phil Kaufman Award in 2011. He passed away on November 7, 2020.
Studying at NCKU with an Inquiring Research Attitude
Academician Liu is world-renowned for his scientific achievements. He made major contributions to 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 Su praised Liu for setting extremely high scientific standards, while NCKU vice president Dr. Cheng-Wen Wu affirmed, “He is a true AI master.”
A former president of National Tsinghua University, Liu has often been referred to as President Liu by his colleagues and acquaintances. 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. In 1956, when he was a graduating student, the school was scheduled to be renamed as Taiwan Provincial Cheng Kung University in August. At that time, the college decided to postpone the graduation ceremony. Speaking of this episode, Chung-Laung Liu laughed, “So we may claim ourselves as the first graduating class of Cheng Kung University!”
After completing his 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 associate 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 of academic studies at NCKU. He said in appreciation, “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 study habits, and developed a passion for 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.
Spreading New Knowledge of Popular Science via Radio with the Publication of 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 in the 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 the eternal pride of NCKU! (Source of image: CommonWealth Magazine)
Honors and 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