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[2018/10/03] Solving a Puzzling Noble Prize Winner's Problem – Professor Yang’s Formula Puts Himself on the Map

Professor Yang’s causation mathematical formula has successfully solved the problem where a Noble Prize winner failed.


Is it the cause that results in the effect, or is it the effect that determines the result? National Yang-Ming University Institute of Brain Science Associate Professor and Harvard Medicine School Instructor, Professor Yang, used a mathematical equation to solve this puzzling question that was unanswered by Nobel Prize winner Clive Granger. This mathematical equation has cleared up the relationship between cause and effect and the proof has been published in Nature Communications. It is hoped that this breakthrough will create innovations in the fields of medicine, biology, economics, and statistics.


Granger’s causation correlation test was a pivotal finding regarding the statistical proof of the cause and effect relationship, and it resulted in him receiving the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2003. However, Granger’s mathematical model is only able to explain the causation correlation between events unidirectionally. However, such a method is impractical in the real world where cause and effect are often hard to distinguish. In some situations, causation and correlation is bidirectional, which diminishes the value of Granger’s formula. Professor Yang approached this obstacle by basing his formula on the wave analysis mathematical model of Huang, who is a scholar at NASA. He successfully developed a formula that is able to disassemble the different signals present in causation correlation events, which overcomes the bottleneck created by the limitations of Granger’s model. The question of which one comes first, cause or effect, is no longer unsolvable.


Professor Yang’s mathematical formula can be used to clarify the interactions between different regions of the brain, which will make better psychiatric treatments a possibility.


Professor Yang graduated from the National Yang-Ming University's Institute of Clinical Medicine and has previously held a position of attending psychiatric physician at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He is a renowned physician scientist who has focused his research in the area of brain science research. The human brain is divided into multiple regions that are interconnected. Although we are able to obtain data from each of these regions using electroencephalography or by magnetic resonance imaging, for example, the true correlation between schizophrenia and a particular region of the brain has remained unclear up to the present. Without knowing the pathology of such a disease, the development of new treatments is very difficult. Using Professor Yang’s equation, we are now able to understand clearly the relationship between cause and effect in a brain, which will allow us to develop new treatments that are targeted at the origin of the physiological disorder.


Professor Yang remarked that his method not only explains unidirectional causation correlation, but also bidirectional correlations. This in turn sheds light on how brain signals interact. The approach can be applied to other fields that involve causation correlation events. For example, the succession between predators and prey in ecology and the unemployment rate in macroeconomics.


Professor Yang is a “born and raised” Taiwanese physician researcher. He received his Bachelor, Master and Doctorate degrees all from National Yang Ming University and was well nurtured and greatly inspired by the National Yang Ming University Physician Scientist Development Program. His passion for mathematics has meant that he has previously published in the Physical Review Letters a formula that measures cardiac rhythmic abnormalities. Using this second formula, he was even able to calculate the frequency of word arrangements in Shakespeare’s works, which allows the successful distinguishing of authenticity Shakespearean literature from non-authentic works. This accomplishment resulted in him receiving the honor of 2003 Calvin & Rose G Hoffman Marlowe Memorial Trust Prize, making a rare case when a physician scientist wins a literary award.


Professor Yang has also been appointed an editor of Digital Medicine, a subsidiary journal of Nature, and is the only Taiwanese editor among the editorial staff.


Professor Yang’s equation 1


Professor Yang’s equation 2