‘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