‘Our Whole Life Is a Dynamic System’
Recently the Laboratory of Topological Methods in Dynamics, which is headed by Professor Olga Pochinka on HSE’s Nizhny Novgorod campus, received international status. Professor Pochinka spoke with the HSE News Service about the applied use of research in fundamental mathematics and her grand plans for the future. This interview is the first of a special series on HSE’s international laboratories.
What the Laboratory Does
Our research focuses on the development of the theory of dynamic systems and applications. The results of our work help describe existing phenomena or model situations in different areas: economics, biology, and IT. Our whole life, everything that moves, is a dynamic system. When a researcher wants to explain changes in time and space, he or she constructs a model—a dynamic system—and on the basis of this model he or she conducts an analysis, and draws conclusions, and make predictions.
Research in fundamental mathematics is the legacy of Nizhny Novgorod scientists
Back in the 1940s, the physicist Alexander Andronov began to study the theory of nonlinear oscillations. He created an entire school in Nizhny Novgorod and educated many scientists who subsequently worked in various universities of the city. His work was continued by his colleagues and students: Evgeniya Leontovich-Andronova, Artemiy Maier, Juri Neimark, and Leonid Schilnikow. In 2015, we, the students of Andronov’s school, came to HSE University. Inspired by the idea of the development of mathematics, we began to work under one roof in a laboratory that was already established. Two years later, in 2017, we officially opened our own laboratory, where we have been engaged in the study of dynamic systems ever since. The laboratory team, of course, has increased over the years. If at the very beginning of the journey it was a circle of four or five people, now we have 25 employees. This includes scientists, teachers, doctoral students, master’s students, and undergraduate students. For example, we have a research assistant Danila Shubin. He only just completed his first year, and he has already participated in an international conference!
Second-year student, HSE – Nizhny Novgorod
‘In the laboratory I do research in the field of the qualitative theory of dynamical systems. Last year, together with Professor Pochinka, my supervisor, we wrote an article on the classification of systems in the n-dimensional sphere. Now I am studying the properties of streams: this is necessary for beginning the next classification problem. It’s hardly necessary to talk about the applied use of my research: it is fundamental in nature. In addition to research, I participate in the organization of laboratory events—conferences and the Summer Mathematical School. I am interested in mathematics, because I love to study and learn new things, and this is the only science whose truths are absolute. I am also drawn by the beauty of many proofs and the opportunity to solve interesting problems.’
Who Should Apply to the Laboratory
The most important thing in the eyes of our faculty members is a love of mathematics; all our attention is devoted to it. Perseverance, the ability to work with abstract concepts, numbers, and a PC are also important. Not all students can handle the workload, because the laboratory requires constant participation in scientific life. From day one, employees must speak at conferences, conduct research, write reports, and work on scientific articles. Therefore, an interest in science is also mandatory. But these difficulties do not scare off young scientists: students who have become employees of the lab are very proud of this fact. Being a part of this collective carries a certain prestige for them.
Who Heads the Lab
Since July 1, the laboratory has held international status. Dmitry Turaev, a professor at London's Imperial College, became our academic supervisor. This status in conjunction with working with a foreign university scientist, of course, implies an expansion of international cooperation. I see only advantages in this. Projects with colleagues from other countries are very useful: you see the problem from a different perspective, get to know a different approach, and hear opinions different from yours that help generate new ideas.
Dmitry Turaev is a professor at Imperial College London, UK. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics of Gorky State University (now Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod), and a student of Leonid Schilnikow, a renowned Soviet and Russian mathematician, who long headed the Andronov school. He has worked in Israel and Germany, and he now teaches and conducts research in the UK. He is the author of more than 140 scientific articles and two monographs published in English, Russian and Chinese. His research interests include dynamical systems, bifurcation theories, and game dynamics.
Engagement with the Community – Locally and Globally
In addition to scientific research, we are also actively engaged in community outreach. We hold conferences for students and even schoolchildren – we prepare future generations of scientists in advance
In 2022, we have planned a large international event. The International Mathematical Congress will be held in St. Petersburg, with scientists from different countries in attendance. As part of this event, accompanying conferences are scheduled in other Russian cities. One of them will be held in Nizhny Novgorod at our laboratory.
Early-Career Researchers’ Academic Degrees
A ‘Mega-Grant’ Competition for ground-breaking research projects funded by the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education was held for the seventh time, and this year’s competition winners included two projects that will be based at HSE University campuses. One research group will study dynamic systems at HSE – Nizhny Novgorod, and a new social neurobiology laboratory will begin work at HSE University in Moscow.
The International Mathematics Competition for University Students was held in Bulgaria from June 28th to August 3rd, 2019. 360 students from 77 teams from all over the world took part in one of the most prestigious student competitions in mathematics. Teams from the Faculty of Computer Science and the Faculty of Mathematics represented HSE University at the event.
Anna Kozhina, a Research Assistant at HSE’s international Laboratory of Stochastic Analysis and its Applications, earned her PhD at Heidelberg University in Germany with highest distinction and earned an academic degree of the first category from HSE’s new Dissertation Committee. This year Anna’s dissertation was awarded the Wilma-Moser prize, which recognizes the best work among female graduate students in the natural sciences. In an interview with HSE News Service, Anna discussed what made her fall in love with mathematics and how science keeps her on her toes.
Faculty of Computer Science of HSE and Skoltech are pleased to announce the launch of the second joint Olympiad in Statistical Learning Theory (SLT). The competition will be open to students specializing in the fields related to Applied Mathematics and Informatics. Following a pre-selection phase (application details below), the Olympiad final will be held at Skoltech on April 6-7, 2019.
Mathematicians at the Higher School of Economics have developed a model that explains how cell specialization arises in the context of resource constraints. The results are published in PLOS One journal.
An international group of researchers (the first author is Nikita Kalinin, HSE Saint-Petersburg, the last author is Ernesto Lupercio, CINVESTAV, Mexico) has presented the first continuous model describing self-organised criticality. The proposed solution is simpler and more universal than the classical sandpile model: it integrates areas as remote from one another as economics, developmental biology and gravity in the context of tropical geometry. The paper was published in PNAS.
Graduates of the Faculty of Mathematics at HSE, Andrey Ionov and Lera Starichkova, who have since enrolled in educational programmes at leading international universities, spoke about their love for mathematics, the level of the Bachelor programme at HSE, and admission to foreign PhD programmes.
The HSE Summer University is off to a strong start this year, and one of its programmes – the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in Mathematics – has already been met with considerable enthusiasm by participating students. Designed for undergraduate students majoring in Mathematics or related areas, participants work on research projects under the supervision of distinguished mathematicians.
In July, HSE is launching two English-taught courses on Coursera. Enrollement for the courses is still open. The full list of online courses offered by HSE is available on HSE MOOCs page.
Moscow Lectures, a new series of books in English, is set to be published by Springer Nature. The series is issued jointly by HSE and Skoltech, and its Editor-in-Chief is Alexey Gorodentsev, Professor at the HSE Faculty of Mathematics. Twelve volumes are currently in preparation and the first volume will be published at the beginning of June 2018. The series builds on the outstanding research and education in the field of mathematics in Moscow. It is aimed at graduate and undergraduate students, as well as lecturers and researchers, across the globe.