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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsNewsEducationMath in Moscow Admits Students for Spring Semester

Math in Moscow Admits Students for Spring Semester

Math in Moscow, a joint programme run by the Independent University of Moscow, the Moscow Centre for Continuous Mathematical Education and the Higher School of Economics, is accepting applications for the spring 2016 semester until September 30. The Math in Moscow programme for international students has been giving young mathematicians from different countries the opportunity to learn from the best Russian teachers. All programme courses are taught in English.


Math in Moscow started in 2001 at the initiative of several staff members from the Independent University of Moscow.

‘We started with our study of the experience of the University of Budapest, which in the 1990s had the only special programme in the world for foreign students in mathematics. In the first semester, I received only one application, but we still decided to open. Alex Smith, a student at Cornell University (USA), was our first graduate’, says programme director Irina Paramonova. ‘At the end of the semester, Alex said that in four months in Moscow he had learned more than he had at his university in four years. This is not surprising; at that time, he had a dozen professors to himself here’.

In 2002, the American Mathematical Society, and in 2004, the Canadian Mathematical Society awarded scholarships for those wishing to study mathematics at the Independent University of Moscow. Now about 30 students a year go through training, mainly from US and Canadian universities, although there are also students from Europe and Asia. ‘Generally speaking it’s third- and fourth-year students, although there was one very capable first-year student. There are also those who want to improve their level before going to graduate school’, said Paramonova.

The Higher School of Economics became a partner of the programme in 2008. Students can attend classes at both HSE and the Independent University of Moscow, and they live in HSE dormitories.

‘The programme has absorbed the best of what can be found in the Moscow mathematical school, where. First, there is no memorization of proofs and statements but rather rediscovery of the basic facts of fundamental mathematics. Secondly, there is involvement of young students in mathematical creative work at the very early stages of their study’, says Yuly Ilyashenko, Rector of the Independent University of Moscow and professor at HSE.

What is the Moscow school of mathematics?

The emergence of a Moscow school of mathematics is associated with the names of preeminent Russian mathematicians Nikolai Luzin and Dmitri Egorov and Luzin's students – Kholmogorov, Keldysh, Novikov, Alexandrov, and Lavrentyev, and many others. They became the face of Soviet mathematics in the second half of the 20th century, and their students represent the current generation of Russian mathematicians.

When perestroika began, a group of Moscow mathematicians decided to start its own university; an independent university was thus born. Over the next 20 years, the Independent University of Moscow produced dozens of brilliant research mathematicians who are actively working now. The university also gave rise to affiliate organizations, for instance, the first Russian-French research laboratory in mathematics, physics and informatics and the new department of mathematics at Higher School of Economics. The department is now becoming one of the leading mathematical centres in Russia and compete well with the famous math-mechanical department at MSU.

Russian mathematics for foreigners 

‘The Math in Moscow programme has been created to show what Russian mathematics is as well as to teach students as much as we can’, said Michael Tsfasman, Vice Rector for Research at the Independent University of Moscow. ‘It is in between two traditions. On the one hand, there is the extensive homework that you have in US universities, which is kept in this programme. But teaching is less formal and professors expect that you are interested in mathematics, which distinguishes the Independent University of Moscow.

‘If you want to become a mathematician, you’ll become one, and Math in Moscow is one of the best places to open up your mind, learn new ways of doing and not follow the pattern, and find like-minded people – professors, lecturers, students with passion and enthusiasm to do their work’.

Here is what students from the spring 2015 semester had to say about the programme:


Shuchi Agrawal, Brown University 

This semester was one of the best experiences of my life. I really enjoyed my classes - I think all my professors were fantastic, and since math people have been one of the biggest parts that draws me to math, meeting professors with such charming and interesting personalities made my math experience great. What I’ve learned this semester has also prepared me much better for my research programme this summer.

I also loved being in Moscow and through many Russian cities like Sergeev Posad, Petrozavodsk, and Vladimir. I really like how cultured the city and the people are, and how there are countless opportunities to listen to the philharmonic/orchestra, watch plays and ballets. I think it makes a big personal difference to have these opportunities in one's youth.

I can't thank enough Prof. Irina Ponomarenko, the organizers, my professors and my classmates enough for this. It has been the best experience of my life. 


Max Lipton, Willamette University 

I am forever grateful for my time here. I have grown a lot - personally and mathematically. Before coming here, I was not putting much priority into my mathematics studies. Being around so many motivated students and professors has given me the inspiration to push myself as far as I can go. Honestly, I was not looking forward to the end of the semester because it means that I will not see a lot of the people here for a long time, but I'm also more excited than ever to continue learning and improving, and potentially seeing my old classmates at future conferences. 


Aaron Calderon, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The past four months have been both mathematically and personally rewarding for me - I don't think that such an experience would even be available to me in the states. The community of mathematicians I've met here – both professors and participants – has been both encouraging and enlightening. I have made lasting friendships and learned an absolutely ridiculous amount. I'll be sad to leave, but I'll remember this programme forever. 


Ethan Ackelsberg, Bard College at Simon's Rock 

This was an incredible semester. I decided to take courses in areas with a long Russian tradition that would not be available at most colleges in America, and it was a fascinating experience. The professors were not only knowledgeable about the subject, but they were the students and collaborators of the mathematicians whose names kept appearing with theorems we learned in class. Being so close to the creative origins of beautiful mathematical subjects is an experience I will remember and try to replicate for the rest of my life. Math in Moscow is a wonderful programme that I would recommend to anyone seriously interested in mathematics. 


Han Wu, University of Michigan 

This semester was really an unforgettable experience for me. Having received my high school education in China, I have admired the Russian style since I was young. The emphasis on problem solving is particularly attractive for me. In addition, the living conditions are incredible at a very low price. Moscow is a great city and I hope I can come back in the future! 

10 reasons to study in the programme

  1. A wide range of courses in algebra, algebraic geometry, topology, number theory, and others.
  2. A curriculum formed based on the desires expressed by future students at the application stage. Credits received for the programme are transferred to a person’s place of permanent study.
  3. No formal restrictions on age. The programme welcomes talented first year undergraduates, graduate students, and those preparing to enrol in postgraduate school.
  4. The opportunity to study in a group of like-minded people, to interact with students at the Independent University and the Higher School of Economics, and to attend classes at both universities.
  5. Reputation: Math in Moscow is a brand that guarantees quality education, which attracts the attention of graduate schools at universities such as Princeton, MIT, and Berkeley.
  6. Teachers who are leading Russian mathematicians, including Academician Victor Vasiliev, Independent University Rector Yuly Ilyashenko, the first dean of the School of Economics’ Faculty of Mathematics, Sergei Lando, Dean of the HSE Faculty of Computer Science Ivan Arzhantsev and more than 20 world-renowned scientists.
  7. The opportunity to attend the ‘Globus’ mathematics seminar where world famous mathematics such as Yuri Manin, Vladimir Arnold, Yakov Sinai, Steve Smale, Pierre Cartier, Laurent Lafforgue, as well as similar events.
  8. An individually oriented programme; usually a group in each subject consists of 4-5 students, which allows the instructor to work with everyone.
  9. The opportunity to interact with members of the Poncelet Russian-French Laboratory. Every year several young French mathematicians come here. The laboratory carries out a number of conferences and seminars.
  10. The programme also offers courses on the Russian language, Russian literature, the history of mathematics and Russian history.

See also:

Where Mathematicians Are Made

This summer, the HSE Faculty of Mathematics moved into a new building on Usacheva Street. As part of the Open House project, two HSE students – Petr Ogarok, a second-year student in the Mathematics programme, and Anastasia Matveeva, a first-year master’s student in the Mathematics and Mathematical Physics programme – gave an excursion around the new building.

International Laboratory for Mirror Symmetry and Automorphic Forms

The new International Laboratory for Mirror Symmetry and Automorphic Forms will open at HSE’s Faculty of Mathematics in 2017. This project, overseen by Ludmil Katzarkov (Professor at the University of Miami), won the Fifth Mega-Grants Competition of the Government of the Russian Federation.

Curiosity as a Good Motivation for Researchers and the General Public

In 2015 Alexey Bufetov graduated from HSE Doctoral School of Mathematics, and is now working at MIT. He has talked to HSE News Site about his research and his career as a mathematician.

'Math in Moscow Programme Was Absolutely Incredible'

Jonathan Gerhard from James Madison University spent one semester studying in Math in Moscow programme run jointly by HSE, Moscow Center for Continuous Mathematical Education, and Independent University of Moscow. During his time in Russia Jonathan took intensive maths courses, studied the Russian language and traveled to several Russian cities.

HSE Students Get Gold, Silver and Bronze in International Mathematical Competition

HSE’s team has won four gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the International Mathematical Competition for University Students (IMС 2016), the most representative mathematics contest for university students. The team included students from the Faculty of Computer Science and the Faculty of Mathematics.

After Turning Down Offers in New York and Berlin, Chinese Student Pursues Mathematics Training at HSE

For DaoDao Yang, a native of Dali, China, choosing a programme in mathematics came down to the decision of where he felt most challenged and most comfortable. This ultimately meant turning down offers at New York University and the Berlin Mathematical School to accept an offer from the Master’s programme at the Higher School of Economics. In an extensive interview with the HSE news service, Dao Dao recently spoke about what led him to choose HSE for his postgraduate study; his impressions of the programme, its professors and his fellow students; and his future plans.

International Spring School on Human Rights Debates Issues of Religion, Identity and Freedom of Conscience

In May, the HSE Voronovo Learning Centre hosted the International Spring School on Human Rights, a five-day educational retreat organized jointly by the HSE Department of Public Policy, the University of Bologna and the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

HSE Becomes Member of Erasmus Student Network

HSE’s volunteer organisation, which is made up of student ‘buddies’ who help foreign students adapt to life in Russia, has become a part of the Erasmus Student Network.

Studying Software Engineering at HSE

The Master’s programme in System and Software Engineering aims to provide students an opportunity not only to acquire the knowledge and experience they need in their chosen profession, but also to help them generate a systemic view on bringing resolutions to the difficult professional challenges they are certain to face in the future. Academic Supervisor Dmitry Alexandrov talks about programme features and international students share their experience of living and studying in Moscow.

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Samira Verhees, a Ghent University alumna and doctoral student at the HSE School of Linguistics, spoke about her Caucasian studies.