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HENDERSON YEUNG

HENDERSON YEUNG

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August 21, 2018
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August 21, 2018
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November 14, 2017
"Don't worry!..." This is what Dr. Yeung always told us. He was a genuinely nice man who was concerned about us, though he once told me he regretted there were so many students that he wasn't able to keep track of our individual progress too closely or nudge us when we needed nudging (as they might do at Stanford, he explained). I see now that he was helping us get a world-class education right at our neighborhood university, Fresno State. What a privilege it was!

Yes, he was a genius, though he was so down to earth that we never thought of him this way. He was simply our role model and mentor -- the guy who knew "deep truths" (a term he used once when talking about trees in graphing) that we hoped we could learn from him, so we paid attention to him and tried our best. He didn't drill us on comparatively lesser important details, but he always focused on the big picture. Once, during third semester calculus, he spent several sessions in a row lecturing to us about the same formula (the "delta" formula in three dimensions). I remember feeling a bit like I was floundering, but looking back, I see now that he was trying to teach us to think in fundamentals, which was brave of him to do. (He once told us about a conversation with the dean that he had early in his career when the dean advised him to assign more homework, saying that if he didn't then then students would waste time playing frisbee!) On the day of the final examination, I got caught up reading a book all day in the campus bookstore and when I walked into the classroom to take the final I was sure that I was going to fail. To my great relief, Dr. Yeung announced that if we were happy with the grade we already had up to that point that we could skip the final and then that would be our grade for the course. I never felt so relieved in my life! I walked out with an "A", without taking the final.

Here (posted with this note) is a photo of Dr. Yeung and me posing for the Daily Collegian for an article that appeared along with an article about the new computer science option being offered for math majors (tinyurl dot com slash yb9tzyfk). I was having the time of my life. I remember vividly an assignment that he made during Fortran class when I was a freshman: "Write a short program that contains double-nested for-loops." I wanted to do well, but the computer lab rooms closed at 9 pm, so I continued a trick I had learned as a high school sophomore, when I hung around the labs trying to learn to program (tinyurl dot comslash ybm45tyv), I went to the back of the Ed-Psych building and shimmied up a scrawny tree to reach the outside ledge, then walked the length of the ledge and went through the small open window in the computer lab there. That way I was able to work late into the night and do good work.

What a great guy! I will never forget him. He was even gracious enough to correspond with me via e-mail years after graduating, once telling me about a fascinating book that he had read at Border's Bookstore. We will miss him.
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Henderson Yeung and Brian Riley in the Daily Collegian (photo by Jean Vevers) Prof. Yeung - bottom 3rd from right

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