After Silvia Nasar and David Gruber trashed Prof. Yau's reputation, Dennis Overbye tries to restore some of it in his article in today's NYTimes. This new effort can at best be described only as a partial success.
[I]n 2003, a Russian mathematician, Grigory Perelman, sketched a way to jump a roadblock that had stymied Dr. Hamilton and to prove the hallowed theorem as well as a more general one proposed by the Cornell mathematician William Thurston. Dr. Perelman promptly disappeared, leaving his colleagues to connect the dots.
Among those who took up that challenge, at the urging of Dr. Yau, were Huai-Dong Cao of Lehigh University, a former student, and Xi-Ping Zhu of Zhongshan University. Last June, Dr. Yau announced that they had succeeded and that the first complete proof would appear in The Asian Journal of Mathematics, at which he is the chief editor.
In a speech later that month during the string theory conference, Dr. Yau said, “In Perelman’s work, many key ideas of the proofs are sketched or outlined, but complete details of the proofs are often missing,” adding that the Cao-Zhu paper had filled some of these in with new arguments.
This annoyed many mathematicians, who felt that Dr. Yau had slighted Dr. Perelman. Other teams who were finishing their own connect-the-dots proofs said they had found no gaps in Dr. Perelman’s work. “There was no mystery they suddenly resolved,” said John Morgan of Columbia, who was working with Gang Tian of Princeton on a proof.
This new piece of dirt doesn't help Yau's cause at all:
In a twist, a flaw has been discovered in the Cao-Zhu paper. One of the arguments that the authors used to fill in Dr. Perelman’s proof is identical to one posted on the Internet in June 2003 by Bruce Kleiner, of Yale, and John Lott, of the University of Michigan, who had been trying to explicate Dr. Perelman’s work.
In an erratum to run in The Asian Journal of Mathematics, Dr. Cao and Dr. Zhu acknowledge the mistake, saying they had forgotten that they studied and incorporated that material into their notes three years ago.