Huang was born in Nanning, China and grew up in Manila, Philippines. He earned a B.S. and a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1950 and 1953, respectively. He served as an instructor at MIT from 1953 to 1955, and subsequently spent two years as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. After returning to the MIT faculty in 1957, Huang became an authority on statistical physics, and worked on Bose-Einstein condensation and quantum field theory. At MIT, he had many PhD students in theoretical physics including Raymond G. Vickson who became a professor in Operations Research at the University of Waterloo. After retiring in 1999, he wrote on biophysics and was also a visiting professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Huang was best known to Chinese readers as the translator of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam; while a graduate student in physics, he adapted Edward FitzGerald's famous adaptation into Classical Chinese verse. The book (Chinese: ) had been out of print for years, but was reprinted in Taiwan in 1989. With his wife Rosemary, Huang also translated the ancient divination text I Ching into English.
Huang died on 1 September 2016 at the age of 88.