Alexander Belavin, famous physicist and mathematician, professor of the Independent University of Moscow, and member of our editorial board, is 60.
Belavin's research concerns various domains of mathematics and theoretical physics: field theory, YangMills equation, inverse scattering method (both classical and quantum), conformal theory, R-matrices and related questions of representation theory. One can say that each of these domains would not be the same without his pioneering work.
His outstanding personality is marked by profound passion for truth, both in science and in life.
We wish Sasha Belavin years and years of various fruitful activity, for his own pleasure, and for the benefit of the international scientific community and, in particular, of the IUM and our journal.
B. Feigin, Yu. Ilyashenko, S. Lando, A. Sossinsky, M. Tsfasman, V. Vassiliev
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The desire to write something about Sasha Belavin is overwhelming. He is really a striking personality.
Our main impressions in life come from people around us, and human beings are certainly the most interesting objects in this world. Theoretically speaking, everyone around us is interesting, but practically (we should be ashamed of this, though) we are mostly attracted by the bright and wonderful. I have known Sasha Belavin for many years, I got to know many details of his life, but the first feeling of almost blinding brightness has not diminished. Now I should speak of Sasha's search for verity, of his longing for truth and justice, of his religiousness and involvement in human affairs. At some point he was involved in politics, then gave it up, this deserves a special story. There are many who have experienced his generous help. When he sees someone in trouble or in plight, he always acts.
But all this is too difficult to carve on paper, and I shall better speak of his physics research. His research characterizes although insufficiently his personality. He is just as ardent in science as in everything else, and physics for him is a great human activity, something most beloved. I got acquainted with Sasha at the beginning of the 1980s. He had invented many things before that, it is enough to mention instantons. To my regret I did not witness the birth of instantons, which is really a pity, knowing their role in mathematics (and even greater in physics). Algebraic geometry, smooth topology, and non-linear differential equations were drastically changed and got new impulses for their development from him. At the beginning of the 1980s Sasha was studying classical and quantum R-matrices. His is the fundamental paper introducing the elliptic R-matrix. One of the consequences of this paper is quite typical for Belavin. He introduced V. Drinfeld to the domain, and they wrote a joint paper on the classification of classical R-matrices. Continuing to think this over, Drinfeld came to the notion of Poisson group and quantum group. This pattern was repeated in Belavin's life several times. At the same time Sasha developed conformal field theory. One can hardly name a paper having greater influence both on physics and mathematics than the BelavinPolyakovZamolodchikov paper. Many, myself included, were introduced to this domain because of Sasha.
It is extremely difficult to give a complete characterization of Belavin's contribution to science, and fortunately it is not yet time to do this. The few words above are enough to show his amazing intuition and deep insight.