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Regular version of the site

Year in Review for HSE University ’s Faculties

What has won the hearts and stomachs of HSE students on Staraya Basmannaya Street? What faculty has brought together Yandex, JetBrains, SAS, 1C and Sberbank? Why are mathematicians looking forward to 2022? Below, we begin summing up the results of the 2018/19 academic year for the faculties of HSE University.

Mikhail Boytsov, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities

For the Faculty of Humanities, the past year has turned out to be complicated as usual, and far from boring. We’ve had a lot of changes. Suffice it to say, our faculty management changed last summer. In addition, the HSE Academic Council decided to split the School of Philology in two—there will now be a School of Literary History and Theory and a School of General and Applied Philology. There is no longer a School of Philology. But prospective students have nothing to worry about: the successful undergraduate programme in Philology will continue as usual. Master’s programmes in Philology will also function as they did previously.

Furthermore, the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies boasts some innovations. This year, it invites applicants to four new undergraduate programmes: Assyriology; Languages and Literature of Southeast Asia; Japanese Language and Literature; and Classical Studies. This year we opened the Centre of Classical and Oriental Archaeology, which is launching a master’s programme. A kind of prelude to this development was the archaeological school in Agrigento, Sicily, which was held in early May. We’ve also created the International Centre of Anthropology, which has contributed to the Faculty’s breakthrough development this year.

Infrastructural development has been one of the most important issues for the faculty this past year. Last autumn, we opened a brand new cafeteria, which immediately won the hearts and stomachs of students, lecturers and staff. Just recently, we opened a psychological counseling office. I hope that eventually we’ll have a first aid room, as well. But, most importantly, we are getting more space: the historical part of the main building on Staraya Basmannaya has finally come into operation by HSE University last autumn and has been given to our faculty, which has been suffering from a shortage of space. Allocating and renovating the new office and classroom space has been quite the task—we are grateful to the university maintenance services. Now we are focused on discussing design issues and purchasing furniture and equipment. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen quickly, but we are very hopeful that in September the faculty’s research departments will be housed in the renovated historical building, and classes there will begin. By the way, one of the biggest rooms in the historical building has been allocated for a childcare facility: a new feature that will probably be introduced to other HSE University locations as well.

Undoubtedly, the faculty is not limited to its walls, even historical ones: it should be open to the city, and even more so if it is a Faculty of Humanities. This year, we have successfully cooperated with our good neighbours, the Muravyov-Apostol House Museum. The HSE University Lecture Centre organized a series of lectures ‘The Unknown 19th Century’ which was held inside the beautiful museum. Since the lectures were a success and attracted a keen audience, we hope to continue them next year.

It would take too long to talk about all the conferences we’ve organized, the books we’ve published, the expeditions we went on, and our other research achievements. I would like to mention our important milestone: since last year, three of our dissertation councils successfully began operation and the first theses were defended in accordance with the new procedure.

Speaking of promising innovations, I would like to emphasize our developing project in digital humanities. The faculty organized a review of what is being done in this field by all HSE University campuses (we found out that a lot is being done, but not everyone knew about each other’s work), and had a promising meeting with experts from the University of Exeter, which hosts a big and successful digital laboratory. Some of the research projects carried out at the Faculty received big grants by RSF and other funds, which is also a piece of good news.

Many faculty members will probably remember the past year for our heated discussions about the formal assessment criteria of their research contributions. It looks like these criteria have become less formal than previously and now better recognize the specifics of research in humanities. We’ll probably continue deliberating this issue.

Ivan Arzhantsev, Dean of the Faculty of Computer Science (FCS)

Artem Messikh, Manager of FCS

This year, the HSE Faculty of Computer Science turned five. FCS has come a long way: from an idea by Yandex and the HSE University administration in the spring of 2014 to a leading IT department in Russia. Every year, FCS prepares competitive developers and researchers in data analysis and machine learning, big data storage and processing, bioinformatics and financial technology, software engineering and system programming.

Recently, HSE University has advanced considerably in the international rankings, entering the world’s top 250 best universities in computer science in the QS ranking, and the top 100 of the Shanghai ranking in mathematics. Last year, the project, ‘The Use of Stochastic Neuromorphic Generative Models for Developing Digital Twin Technology in Nonlinear Stochastic Systems’, by Andrey Ustyuzhanin, Head of the Laboratory of Methods for Big Data Analysis, received a laboratory grant from the Russian Science Fund. This is the tenth RSF grant received by the faculty staff. We’ve opened a Research Laboratory for Data Analysis in Financial Technologies. It is now part of the Centre of Deep Learning and Bayesian Methods and has become another partner project between the HSE Faculty of Computer Science and Sberbank. The new dissertation council is very active, and three doctoral students have successfully defended their theses and received PhDs in Computer Science. In the 2018/19 academic year, FCS signed student exchange agreements with École Polytechnique (Paris, France), the Polytechnic University of Milan (Italy), Université Grenoble Alpes (France), the University of Bayreuth (Germany), and the University of Twente (the Netherlands). The Chinese University of Hong Kong has become the faculty’s first Asian partner.

Our undergraduate programme in Software Engineering has received the prestigious international accreditation by ABET, and American engineering association. As of today, we are the only programme in Russia with this accreditation. We successfully launched an HSE University/University of London double degree undergraduate programme in Applied Data Analysis. In 2018, 508 students were enrolled in the first year of bachelor’s studies, and 39 of them were winners of the Russian National Olympiad finals. 223 students were enrolled in master’s programmes. The English-taught specialization in Advanced Machine Learning, which has been launched by HSE University together with Yandex, has become Russia’s first online project to receive the Outstanding Educator Award by Coursera. The programme was awarded in the ‘Innovations’ category.

On April 26, the HSE Academic Council approved new regulations on the FCS Board of Trustees. The board includes senior executives from Yandex, JetBrains, SAS, 1C and Sberbank. The first session resolved to create an endowment, which will be used by the faculty to fund long-term projects. Currently, the faculty is implementing joint projects with Samsung, SAS, CERN, and JetBrains. In collaboration with Yandex and with the support of Sperbank, we held the Second International Data Analysis Olympiad, IDAO 2019.

FCS students regularly win international competitions, including ICPS, the world’s biggest programming contest: in April 2019 in Portugal, our students won the bronze.

Vladlen Timorin, Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics

In the summer of 2018, the 28th International Congress of Mathematicians took place in Rio de Janeiro. It has traditionally been the most influential and large-scale event in mathematics. International congresses have come together once every four years since the late 19th century; the renowned Fields medals are announced and awarded at these events. At the August 2018 session, it was revealed that the next congress will take place in St. Petersburg in summer 2022. This decision is a milestone for mathematics in Russia. Several essential governmental resolutions have been made to make broad preparations for the congress. These preparations are not limited to the infrastructure of St. Petersburg or accompanying events in different regions of Russia. Russian mathematics centres, including HSE University, will receive serious resources for developing long-term platform for international cooperation in mathematics. Andrey Okounkov, Academic Supervisor of the HSE International Laboratory of Representation Theory and Mathematical Physics (2006 Fields Medal) has been elected to the executive committee of the International Mathematical Union. He has also become a member of the 2022 congress organizing committee.

The Faculty of Mathematics celebrated its tenth birthday as a research and practice conference organized by its graduates. The speakers included senior experts, graduates and students who have produced internationally recognized research, as well as some of the graduates who are engaged in intellectual endeavors beyond academia.

HSE University has continued to improve its position in the global subject rankings in mathematics. In 2018, we entered the Top 100 of the Shanghai ranking, ARWU, reinforced our positions in the U.S. News ranking (107th), and became the highest ranked Russian university in terms of research productivity, according to ARWU and Expert rankings.

The year has also been fruitful in terms of individual achievements. I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate once again Anton Aizenberg and Natalia Goncharuk on their award from the Moscow Mathematical Society (Anton used to be a post-doc at the Faculty of Mathematics and now works at FCS; Natalia graduated from our doctoral programme and now works at Cornell University); our students Roman Krutovsky and Ilya Dumansky on their victory in August Möbius Contest of research papers; doctoral students and researchers Roman Gonin, Alexey Ivanov, Alexey Ilyin, Andrey Zotov and Igor Mahlin on their victory in the research paper competition ‘Young Mathematics in Russia’; Professor and RAS member Viktor Vasiliev on getting the Petrovsky Award, and Associate Professor Valentina Kirichenko on her Doctor of Mathematical Science degree—this was the first time in Russia that this degree was awarded for a collection of previously published papers, rather than one solid text.

With regard to research, the faculty members have made some significant achievements. The most outstanding results have been achieved in algebraic geometry, mathematical physics, and analysis. Objective measurements, such as advancement in rankings and our publication and citation indices are a testament to our past achievements. We have been recognized this year accordingly, as I said above.

In terms of teaching, we have considerably expanded our work with secondary school students and teachers. Now, we are involved in mathematical education at all levels. As part of the Moscow city project, Mathematical Vertical, HSE University is serving as one of the resource centres, and we are supervising 40 schools.

Our biggest challenge is the growing number of students, which puts pressure on us to switch from the individual work model to a mass education model. The threat hasn’t materialised this year, but it is too early to report whether we have indeed overcome the challenge or are simply still holding steady.

Evgenii Krouk, Academic Supervisor at the Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM HSE)

Undoubtedly, the main event of this academic year was finalizing the HSE University Development Programme up to 2030. It is not only because the approval of the new long-term development programme is an important stage in the university life, but also because the programme outlines a brand new direction of HSE University growth in education and research: the digital university, eLearning, and complex interdisciplinary research programmes aimed at solving the key problems in the national economy – just to mention a few of the goals the university has set.

MIEM’s key area of development in the past year was related to developing and implementing the project model of education. The digital economy requires, on the one hand, accelerated rates of learning, and on the other hand, bringing it closer to practice. To solve this task, we have applied the project model. Learning by realizing a project means abandoning the lecture-classroom model for a teaching and learning process that is part of one specific project. This model of learning means that a professional grows as part of a team while implementing a real-life project with real deadlines and supervision. The execution of the requirements of the educational standards makes it necessary to create an individual study track for each project, which, in the context of limited time and teaching resources, is possible only based on eLearning.

We understood that in implementing such learning, we encounter several obstacles in terms of technology, organization, law and psychology, but we couldn’t ignore this global trend in contemporary engineering education. Otherwise we would not be in demand. We took the risk and launched project learning widely. Projects have become an obligatory part of learning in the third year of all MIEM programmes. The rest of the institute students could participate in project optionally. A total of over a hundred projects have been submitted, with the participation of over 400 students. Now, we can say that project learning at MIEM has succeeded. From May 20 to 23, we organized a project examination session, with three authoritative committees (headed by Igor Agamirzyan, Vladimir Starykh, and Evgenii Krouk), with HSE University lecturers as well as visiting experts. We are deeply grateful to our colleagues who worked through the four days of the session, from 10 am to 6 pm. Many of them also participated in daily discussions of the results, which sometimes lasted until late at night. The committees acknowledged 86 projects as implemented, which constitutes 84% of the total number. We believe this is a serious achievement.

Our main challenge was the same – to organize project learning. We had to overcome students’ inertia and lack of trust, as well as lecturers’ doubts and skepticism. We faced several organizational and methodological issues, which we hadn’t realized initially. I think that, probably, HSE University was the only place where we could solve them, since it already has the information and legal tools, which we had yet to learn how to use. The development of project learning still requires further effort. By next year, we will launch a new pool of 100 projects, which means we’ll have new topics and new people – students and supervisors. We are only developing the system of cooperation with industrial commissioners of student projects, and it sometimes contradicts the lecturers’ research interests. We haven’t yet launched a system that will support projects implemented through eLearning.

And we still have to develop project activities at the master’s level. Most of our master’s students are already employed. This means that their project learning should take this into the account: we are looking forward to creating a master’s engineering and technology school. We don’t forget about our responsibility to foster research and development. HSE University aims to organize complex interdisciplinary research programmes aimed at solving big tasks in the national economy. The university’s engineering department can’t stay away from this effort and should become one of its most active promoters. And we still have such issues as human resources, breakthrough research areas development, promoting student relations, and many others. And we can’t keep anything for later; we have to do everything at once. However, it seems like this is one of HSE University’s principles.

Prepared for OKNA ROSTA, HSE University newsletter (posted online in Russian)

June 21, 2019