Tenth Anniversary of the
Independent University of Moscow
The Independent University of Moscow is celebrating its tenth anniversary. In comparison with a regular long standing University, it is like a ten year old child in comparison with an adult.
The history of the IUM begins with a meeting held in the summer of 1991 at Moscow High School #57. The meeting was initiated by N. Konstantinov. According to his suggestion, the future team of the Independent University simply decided to start teaching university courses in mathematics, beginning in September 1991.
The subsequent history of this meeting characterizes the historical period when it occured. Had it taken place in Stalin times, all the participants of the meeting would have been immediately arrested. Had it opened in Brezhnev times, nothing would have resulted from the meeting. Since it happened in Gorbachev's time, it turned out to be the beginning of the history of the Independent University of Moscow. The founders of the Independent University instituded a small fund from which the IUM was supported during the first period of its work.
The founders were organized into the Scientific Council of the IUM, presided by V. I. Arnold and consisting of A. A. Beilinson, late R. L. Dobrushin, L. D. Faddeev, B. M. Feigin, Yu. S. Ilyashenko, A. G. Khovanskii, A. A. Kirillov, S. P. Novikov, A. N. Rudakov, M. A. Shubin, Ya. G. Sinai, and V. M. Tikhomirov. Professors P. Deligne and R. MacPherson, both of whom have actively supported the IUM since its foundation, are Honorary Members of the Scientific Council.
In the first years, the administration was carried on by N. Konstantinov with his students and friends working as assistants: S. Komarov was responsible for economic and financial matters, V. Imaikin prepared the lecture notes, M. Vialyi organized the teaching process. During the first year, the IUM worked in the Schoool of Informational Technologies near Moscow State University. During the next four academic years Moscow High School #2 kindly invited the IUM to hold classes in its building in the evening. We are especially grateful to the director of the school, P. V. Khmilinskii for his hospitality.
In 1994, again following an initiative due to N. Konstantinov and with the help of A. Shen, the Prefect of the Central District of Moscow, A. Muzykantski, proposed that we organize a new institution, related both to high school and university mathematics, to which a building might be officially presented by the authorities. The bureaucratic work needed for the functioning of this new institution and for solving numerous administrative problems related to getting the new building was enormous. We began to look for an executive director for this new institution who would be able to carry out this work. As I said to one of my older friends and colleages, we need a person who will be a professional in the administrative world, and will understand our university ideals. ``Don't bother,'' my friend answered, ``such a person simply does not exist.'' But we were lucky to actually find not one, but two people of the kind we dreamed about: I. Yashchenko and V. Furin, both alumni of the Moscow State University. At that time both had successful enterprises; in parallel, I. Yashchenko continued his mathematical research work.
Producing all the necessary documentation was a full time job sucessfully carried out by Furin and Yashchenko, and in half a year it resulted in a gift from the Moscow Government: in June 1995 the Major of Moscow, Yu. Luzhkov, signed the ordinance giving to a new institution, the Moscow Center of Continuous Mathematical Education, an unfinished building in the historical center of Moscow. The IUM was required to find, by its own efforts, $1.000 000 needed to finish the construction of the building.
At that time it was a brick four stories house without a roof, with unfinished staircases, and floors covered by crashed bricks like after a bombing. We then declared that we would find the necessary sum, having no concrete sources whatever in mind, only hoping that for such a good enterprise, the money would eventually be found. Indeed, in August 1995, the Moscow Government granted $1.500 000 for finishing the construction of the building and furnishing it, and in a year it was concluded, according to a project presented by the IUM team. On September 26, 1996, the inauguration ceremony of the new building took place, and two closely related institutions, the IUM and the MCCME, began to work in it.
Besides the support of the IUM, the MCCME carries on a lot of activities related to high school education: various mathematical olympiads, lectures for high school teachers, conferences dedicated to educational problems and so on.
During the last eight years, when the Moscow Mathematical Society, and later the MCCME, became directly involved in the organization of the famous Moscow Mathematical Olympiad, it regained and exceeded its former popularity. Last year, three thousand high school students participated the Olympiad, and the number of awards equalled the total number of participants of the Moscow Olympiad of 1992 (!).
Other activities of the MCCME include an important Conference on educational problems, organized in 2000, a very successful Summer school held 2001, which brought together high school and university students with lecturers of the highest level, academicians Anosov, Arnold and Bolibrukh included.
The present status of the Independent University is the following. The first President of the Independent University was M. Polivanov, a mathematical physicist and philosopher, who passed away a year after the beginning of his Presidency. The IUM has two colleges, the Higher College of Mathematical Physics and the Higher College of Mathematics. The first one was first headed by O. Zavialov, now by A. I. Kirillov; the second one by A. Rudakov, now by Yu. Ilyashenko. We have about 100 students in both colleges, about 40 freshmen each year, the HCMP has nearly 20 alumni, and the HCM has 25 alumni. From the very beginnning, the HCMP was located at the Steklov Institute if the Russian Academy of Sciences. The graduate school of the IUM was founded in 1993 as the result of the initiative of A. Beilinson, B. Feigin and V. Ginzburg. Twenty seven people have graduated this school, and passed their PhD theses as of now. In 1998 the AMS published in the series AMS Translations a volume containing the papers by the IUM students, graduate students, and professors.
The bureaucratic establishment of the IUM requires several stages, of which only two have taken place. We are registered as the Independent University of Moscow, an institution of higher learning, and have the appropriate license for teaching activities. In the present complicated bureaucratic situation, getting these documents required five years. We still need to pass the following steps: accreditation (state admission of our diploma), license for the graduate school; opening of a special council for passing PhD theses; protection from the military draft. After going through all these steps, the Independent University will be able to become a day time university, like the traditional ones.
At present, most of our male students study in parallel at two universities, say Moscow State and the IUM, in order to have the military draft exemption. Therefore, our classes take place in the evenings.
The IUM gives a chance to create their own mathematical schools to mathematicians not involved in the teaching process at Moscow State University. The seminars of B. Feigin, S. NatanzonO. SheinmanO. Shvartsman, Yu. Neretin, M. Tsfasman, V. Vassiliev, have been working successfully for several years at the IUM.
During the last decade, lecture courses were given by: D. V. Anosov, V. I. Arnold, A. A. Kirillov, S. P. Novikov, Ya. G. Sinai, V. A. Vassiliev, A. A. Belavin, V. K. Beloshapka, B. M. Feigin, S. M. Gusein-Zade, Yu. S. Ilyashenko, A. G. Khovanskii, I. M. Krichever, A. N. Rudakov, A. G. Sergeev, V. M. Tikhomirov, M. A. Tsfasman, E. B. Vinberg and many others. The courses of Arnold (PDE), Vassiliev (Topology), and Anosov (Dynamical Systems) were published as books later. Many other courses, say that of Belavin, GuseinZade, Prasolov, Sossinskii, Vinberg, were published as well.
The IUM provides teaching possibilities to the professors who have full time positions in the West now. They are realized in the form of crash courses, usually one month long but so intensive that they are equivalent to semester courses. Such courses were given by A. A. Kirillov, A. Khovanski (twice), I. Krichever, A. Katok (who is a Foreign Member of the IUM faculty), P. Cartier, D. Anosov. In 199596, A. Khovanski gave a regular course in honors calculus; he got the permission to be on leave from Toronto University, where he had a full position at the time.
The IUM organizes several other kinds of activities. Student Sessions were given beginning with 1997. The first lecture was presented by Arnold. Beginning with 2000, these sessions were transformed into a regular mathematics research seminar, called Globus. The speakers of these sessions and the seminar include Yu. Manin, Ya. Sinai and almost all the plenary speakers at this conference, some of them spoke more than once. Lectures are taped and then published as collections. Two volumes of these collections have been published. The main efforts in the preparation of theses volumes are due to V. Prasolov.
Beginning with 2001, the IUM started to launch a new periodical, the Moscow Mathematical Journal. Among the authors of the papers already published and presented, are A. Givental, A. J. de Jong, A. and S. Katok, C. Kenig, A. Khovanski, A. A. Kirillov, Ya. Sinai, M. Tsfasman, A. Varchenko and many others. Papers by P. Deligne, G. Faltings, V. Ginzburg, D. Zagier, have been promised, with the titles and volumes indicated.
The IUM has organized a Study Abroad Program called Math in Moscow (MIM) for foreign students, mainly from North America. They are invited to the IUM for one semester to take mathematical and nonmathematical courses. The credits for these courses are transferable to American and Canadian universities. The first student in the program was Scott Alexander Smith from Cornell University. The second one is Brian Lee from Toronto University. In Spring 2002 we expect 11 participants in the program from different universities of the United States. The former President of the AMS, Felix Browder, being informed by Ya. Sinai about the MIM program, proposed to establish a limited number of the AMS awarded fellowships for the participants of the MIM program. These fellowships, granted by the NSF, were instituted in Spring 2001, and at present 8 of them have been awarded.
The IUM has a one month student exchange program with the École Normale Supérieure of Paris. Under this program, from 4 to 6 students of the ENS visit the IUM, and the same number of IUM students visit Paris (since 1996).
A competition for the best research work of undergraduate or graduate students was organized in 1997 and sponsored by V. Balikoev and A. Kokin (successful businessmen, both alumni of the Moscow Institute of Mathematics and Electronics). The winners were A. Kuznetsov (1997), V. Timorin (1998), A. Bufetov (1999) (all from the IUM), S. Shadrin and A. Melikhov (MSU) in 2000, A. Ershler (St. Petersburg University) in 2001.
Of course, numerically the IUM plays a negligible role in Russian cultural life, but its influence, in my opinion, is far from negligible. It may be characterized by a quotation from the Gospel: The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, that a women took and hit into three measures of meal till the whole was leavened. (Matthew, 13:33).
One of the main principles of the IUM is that the result of any job is no more important than the process. This means that people involved in the job should not only achieve the desired result, but should feel absolutely comfortable at the time when the job is carried on.
The IUM tries to be a place to which Russian mathematicians are be able to return after their work abroad, if they will. At present, we have seven young faculty members who obtained their PhD abroad, but are now teaching at the IUM.
We pay moderate stipends to our students and graduate students, and symbolic salaries to our faculty and staff. Yet this is very important at the present time, when everyone combines his income from several different sources. This would have been impossible without the support from different sources that we have had during the whole decade. The first contribution was made by the founding fathers, as mentioned above, and by some other private sponsors, mainly active mathematicians. After that, the Soros Education Program awarded a grant to the IUM. The overheads of several grants awarded by the Soros ``Open Society Institution'' formed the main source of support for the IUM in 199496. The American Mathematical Society gave two grants that supported the IUM in 1997 and 1999. The International Mathematical Union supported the IUM in 1998. Overheads of the RFBR grants make an essential contribution since 1996. The French organization ``Promatematica'' has helped our graduate students beginning with 1994. Beginning from 2000, we have been receiving a sizeable grant from the Clay Mathematics Institute. Just two days before the opening of the Conference, I received the following letter from Arthur Jaffe, the Director of this Institute, and the former President of the AMS.
The IUM is grateful to all the people and organizations that made its existence possible.
The present conference was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the European Mathematical Union, and the Steklov Institute. We are grateful for this support, as well as to all the participants of this conference.