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Open House

Where Mathematicians Are Made


About the Open House Project

Lecture halls, corridors, the student cafeteria, etc., will all eventually become a ‘home away from home’ for prospective HSE students. We cordially invite you to a virtual tour of HSE. Current HSE students show you around campus through our website.

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.

ADDRESS: 6 Usacheva Ulitsa

HOW TO GET THERE: A 15-20 minute walk from the subway stations Sportivnaya, Luzhniki, and Park Kultury

The Building

The HSE Faculty of Mathematics was founded in 2008 and prior to summer 2016 was located on Vavilova Street. The Faculty has since moved and can now be found on Usacheva Street in a historic four-story building constructed in 1937. Before the Faculty of Mathematics, the building first housed a grammar school and then a pedagogical college. ‘Our faculty has now moved much closer to the city centre, which is very convenient,’ comments Petr Ogarok. ‘In the summer, we got to enjoy the faculty’s close proximity to the local parks. The Architect Klein Alley Square is located nearby, as is the Usadba Trubetskikh with its small park. If you go a little farther along Pushkin Bridge, you can walk to Gorky Park.’

The building’s largest auditorium is on the fourth floor, and this is where first-year students have lectures and the faculty holds all of its larger official events. ‘Problem sets are currently given out,’ Anastasia Matveeva notes. ‘Students get sheets of paper with problems on them that they have to solve by themselves. Then they present their solutions to teachers orally. This is how we are tested for a lot of classes. These sorts of problem sets are given out in different classes once every week or two. By the way, one way to make a little extra money in the faculty is to become a teaching assistant and give out the problems. The pay is low, of course, but this is counted as teaching practice for master’s students.’

The second and third floors feature auditoriums, staffrooms, research laboratories, and an administrative office. ‘We have a large computer classroom where students are able to work independently, and there’s Wi-Fi on all of the floors except where the small cafeteria is. The corridors also have boards hung up on the walls for independent work. These have been very popular on Vavilova Street because it was quite crammed there and there weren’t any free auditoriums for you to work independently. This problem no longer exists, but the boards are still used,’ Petr Ogarok adds. ‘There’s a small rec room where students can do things like play guitar or piano, put together puzzles, etc., and there are comfortable yellow couches on all floors. The second-floor corridor also has a book-crossing corner.’

On the first floor, aside from the lecture halls that Petr says are mostly used for second-year classes, there is also a small cafeteria. In as early as December or January, however, a larger cafeteria will be opened for students. ‘We currently have lunch at the smaller cafeteria or in the [larger] cafeteria of the Medical Institute, which is located across the road from us,’ Petr explains. ‘Usachevsky Market is also not far from the Sportivnaya metro stop, and this is where you can go for a nice cup of coffee.’

Academics

The Faculty of Mathematics is now offering a bachelor’s programme in Mathematics, an international master’s programme in Mathematics, and a master’s programme in Mathematics and Mathematical Physics. In September 2013, the Faculty’s International Expert Council, which includes Fields Medal laureates Pierre Deligne and Stanislav Smirnov, brought the faculty’s bachelor’s programme into line with similar programmes offered by some of the world’s best universities. In addition, the Faculty worked with the Centre for Pedagogical Mastery (CPM) to launch the continuing education programme in Mathematics Education. Additionally, the Faculty will open the application window in 2017 for the CPM-HSE joint bachelor’s and master’s programmes.

‘The Faculty’s overall academic curriculum is structured so that in the first two years of undergrad, students take required courses and only one or two electives,’ Anastasia explains. ‘But starting with their third year, and on into the master’s programme, there are no more than two required classes. The students work with their academic supervisors to come up with the rest of their academic plan themselves. We can select any courses we want – from different faculties at HSE and from different institutions with which HSE has close relations, such as the Independent University of Moscow or the Steklov Institute of Mathematics. By the way, the Faculty has a joint department with this institute, and there are also joint departments with the Institute for Information Transmission Problems and the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (LPI RAS).’

The Yandex School of Data Analysis is also nearby, and students are able to take core classes there as well. Students’ grades in several disciplines taken at outside universities can also be counted towards their diploma. In addition, the HSE Faculty of Mathematics works closely with the mathematics faculties at universities in Japan, France, the Netherlands, and Luxemburg. Students are also given the opportunity to participate in summer schools in cities like Dubna, Yaroslavl, Lyon, Kyoto, Rennes, Paris, and Bremen.

Research

As for faculty members, the HSE Faculty of Mathematics has some of the best mathematicians in the world, particularly in contemporary fields such as algebraic geometry, topology, and mathematical physics.

The Faculty’s Algebraic Geometry and Applications Laboratory is headed by Fedor Bogomolov, a professor at the NYU Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. In addition, the Faculty has the International Laboratory of Representation Theory and Mathematical Physics, which is headed by Columbia University professor and Fields Medal laureate Andrey Okounkov.

‘I work in the International Laboratory of Representation Theory and Mathematical Physics, where I’m continuing to develop a topic I started on during my undergrad – analytical theory of differential equations. It’s a big plus when students have their work published in scientific peer-reviewed journals. Publication is not a requirement for students, but I think that it’s good for your academic career. This is why a lot of people publish their work. I, for example, co-authored an article with my academic director, and it will soon be published in the journal Mathematical Notes, while another one of my articles will be published in the Journal of Mathematical Physics,’ Anastasia adds.

Since 2012, the Faculty of Mathematics has held Arnold Day each year in June. This day commemorates the birthday of Vladimir Arnold, a Russian mathematician and the author of numerous works in the fields of topology, the theory of differential equations, the theory of singularities of smooth mappings and theoretical mechanics. Each year, a mathematician is invited to give a lecture to HSE students. In addition, this day also features a lecture by the HSE student awarded the Arnold Scholarship, an HSE scholarship for mathematics students who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishment in their academic work.