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jfuqua
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 27th, 2011, 7:27 pm

I've been reading "Perfect Rigor" about Grigory Perelman but as much about the Russian math/science educational system.From it and other sources I know that after the Soviet breakup that a lot of things changed---most noticiable funding for journals [travel?] but it appears that after a few years internal funding improved and other countries tried to help with funding for their journal and travel [correct?].Several years ago a Russian mathematician, but who has been in the US for over 15 years, told me that his friends in the Russian universities has very good computer access and hardware/software. However even then I'm not sure how really accurate/up-to-date his picture was.In the last few years the Russian economy has improved [at least for some] but I've heard little about how the funding for universities and math/science has been. Recently it sounds from new reports that once again there is a lot of internal strife but no indication of how this has affected education. As the book states if Perelman would have been in the system five/ten years earlier he would not have had the opportunities and if five/ten years later the anti-Jewish and other restrictions would have been lifted but there would not have been the funding.Russia had for many years a reputation for very high level mathematical/science education but seeing some of the world tables for math/science education [K-12] they seem to have slipped. Has higher education been able to keep to a high level ? Any informed comments on the current status ?==================== As a side question/comment, as I recall in the 80s [90s] Hungary ranked very high in [K-12] test scores and of course the mathematicians from the 1940s to 50s were seen as having to have come from an alien planet to be so good. I assume economy problems are responsible for their decline in K-12 rankings and probably the political turmoil of the break-up of the Soviet empire----truely forming their own government but also a lifting of the 'guiding' hand of a central control causes people to flounder until they can recreate their identity. [Correct or am I reading too much into it?].
 
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Zhanerke
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State of Russian Math./Science

February 9th, 2011, 3:09 pm

I have graduated from the Mechanics and Mathematics Department of Moscow State University in 2008. Regarding the level of education: First, the rating http://www.arwu.org/SubjectMathematics2010.jsp indicates that by the criterion of Score on Alumni MSU continues to lead (it takes into account the number of Fields medalists among alumni). I believe that the level of education is still high, although, of course, not comparable with the level in the Soviet Union. Students receive a thorough fundamental mathematical training. A lot of core courses, starting from a third-year student chooses a more narrowly focused direction and should attend relevant courses and to write a coursework each year. The main disadvantage - little requirements, formally anyone who got accepted can graduate from the University, a lot depends on just a personal responsibility of a student. The general secondary education is getting worse as well. The Duma is now considering the project that math and Russian language will be optional subjects, and only three subjects will remain mandatory: Basics of life safety, Russia in the World and P.E. But I think the level of special schools (physics and mathematics lyceums) will remain high, and Russia will still give the world of geniuses like Perelman. Concerning the science: Its level continues to rapidly decline. Graduate student in Russia gets official stipend of $ 100 + room in a hostel - is it possible to survive? Therefore, many graduate students are forced to work, and this of course has bad impact on their academic level. This also applies to professors - many of them works additionally at other jobs, for example, to buy a home. This is sad. Mathematicians do not need a lot of expensive equipment, but the technical equipment of the physical and chemical laboratories is mostly out-of-date. Also, despite the Soviet anti-Semitism, science has always been an objective and transparent, best scientists were highly appreciated. Russia tries to regain its scientists, but there is no big progress - because the problem is not just about money.
 
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jfuqua
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 3rd, 2014, 8:13 pm

Maybe someone can clarify.I often read of Moscow State University and Steklov Institute as being the 'top' places.Is it that MSU is the best school---through Candidate [Dr. Sci ?]---and that Steklov is a research institute granting no degrees [despite having a Dissertation Council].Somewhat like Princeton University is to Institute of Advanced Studies.Or somewhat like German Universities and Max Planck Institute. What I read is since WWII the Institutes have been the real 'research' 'places' [I don't know if they grant degrees or interact with universities in granting degrees] but that now Germany is trying to build-up their 'research' university program one school at a time.A recent book 'Love and Math' by Edward Frenkel paints a very interesting picture of MSU and other schools up through 1990. Mostly the problems anyone classified as Jewish had getting into MSU but also professors there and other places that were very helpful to Frenkel and others.
 
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zerdna
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 3rd, 2014, 10:14 pm

i actually don't know how it was on mehmat and how good it was in terms of math. No pasaran policy for Jewish students was in force during Soviet times for best places in physics, namely Fizteh, Mifi, and of course Moscow State. The difference according to what i heard was in enthusiasm with which it was enforced. At Fizteh people did it, grudgingly. At MIFI they took it as a duty -- administration of special exam for Jewish students who passed first filter of written exam was semi officially called "killing the Jews". At MGU they rejoiced doing it, it was a place where it wasn't a chore, it was a calling. Andre Geim described his double failure at entrance exams in MIFI in his bio for Nobel lecture which was similar to Frenkel's failure at math exam in MGU. There is even a book with some catchy name collecting special "killer" problems actually asked and describing various tactics used. To be fair, there was a solid entryway for Jews into these universities -- first or second place in All Union olympiad. Several Jewish Fields medal winners from USSR -- Margulis, Drinfeld, Kontsevich, and Perelman were educated in Moscow after getting gold or silver in all union or international.
 
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Martinghoul
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 4th, 2014, 6:17 am

I can talk about this till the cows come home, but zerdna is roughly correct. PhysTech was always the most "liberal" in this regard, with MGU, arguably, the worst. But then that's why MGU was always second best . PhysTech rulez!As to the current state of affairs, yes, it's worse than before, but the are signs of improvement off the absolute lows, as far as I can tell.
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Cuchulainn
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 4th, 2014, 11:31 am

Here's my 2 cents ..In the area of applied/numerical analysis I got the impression that Novosobirsk was pretty good. That's going back almost 40 years. Incidentally, I tried to study there but at the time there were no diplomatic relationships between Ireland and CCCP. My supervisor had many academic contacts.Most people don't read/speak Russian but many results in western numerical analysis had already been discovered by Soviets 20 years earler. For example, the darling of quant, Craig Sneyd method was discovered by A.A. Samarski et. al in 1964. The 60's were the golden age of mathematics, both East and West. The ADI method is really "Soviet Splitting" of Marchuk and Yanenko et al.I have many of the MIR books in mathematical and I like the style (it is not Bourbaki). These books always start with an example and why the stuff is important while Bourbaki is 30 pages of axioms before you even get to the first example. LOLThis article by V.I. Arnold is relevant I reckon.One Russian mathematician I know spends from 9.00 am to 19.00 pm every day proving theorems on PDE. But he works 6 months per year outside Russia. Market economy I suppose. Finding a sponsor is an issue I suppose. He used to work in a university close to the big factory that built digging equipment for all of Soviet Union. They had 40,000 researchers. You could just not help but be good in mathematics.
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jfuqua
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 4th, 2014, 3:42 pm

My real question was about the relationship and what differs between MSU and Steklov.
 
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zerdna
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 5th, 2014, 12:48 am

In MGU you sat in classes, in Steklov you did research. I think there is a misunderstanding of how things worked in USSR as opposed to US. Research was done predominantly in research institutes, universities unlike in US were places for education. Research institutes had orders of magnitude more people, received lion's share of financial support, and employed most active researchers. Situation in elite schools like fizteh was somewhat atypical -- namely, people who taught things beyond general math and physics had their main job doing research somewhere else, not in university. Also, in USSR you didn't take additional classes after 5 years. On a PhD level you just did research. So it was not a university that awarded you higher research degrees, it was the some national body called attestation commission. Only degree that was tied to school was your five year degree.
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Martinghoul
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 5th, 2014, 9:05 am

That's right... And Steklov is, essentially, an elite "NII" (research institute), whereas MSU is a regular university.
 
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Cuchulainn
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January 5th, 2014, 12:56 pm

Steklov has(had?) its own journal.
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ppauper
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 5th, 2014, 1:07 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: CuchulainnIn the area of applied/numerical analysis I got the impression that Novosobirsk was pretty good. That's going back almost 40 years. Incidentally, I tried to study there but at the time there were no diplomatic relationships between Ireland and CCCP. My supervisor had many academic contacts.not surprised you tried to study thereAn acquaintance of mine was doing his phd at an ivy league school in the 1980s, his advisor went to russia for a year on sabbatical and expected the student to go with him. The student refused. More to do with the lack of "luxuries" in the former soviet union than anything elseQuoteThis article by V.I. Arnold is relevant I reckon.a (different) acquaintance of mine, fluid dynamicist by trade, recalls that he once corresponded with Arnold about some work he (my acquaintance) was doing on fluids and he (my acquaintance) thought KAM theory etc might be playing a role. The puch line was "I didn't understand his reply"QuoteHe used to work in a university close to the big factory that built digging equipment for all of Soviet Union. They had 40,000 researchers. You could just not help but be good in mathematics. so what good did all those researchers do ? I don't recall digging equipment from the soviet union having a particularly good reputation
 
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Cuchulainn
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January 5th, 2014, 2:44 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: ppauperQuoteOriginally posted by: CuchulainnIn the area of applied/numerical analysis I got the impression that Novosobirsk was pretty good. That's going back almost 40 years. Incidentally, I tried to study there but at the time there were no diplomatic relationships between Ireland and CCCP. My supervisor had many academic contacts.not surprised you tried to study thereAn acquaintance of mine was doing his phd at an ivy league school in the 1980s, his advisor went to russia for a year on sabbatical and expected the student to go with him. The student refused. More to do with the lack of "luxuries" in the former soviet union than anything elseQuoteThis article by V.I. Arnold is relevant I reckon.a (different) acquaintance of mine, fluid dynamicist by trade, recalls that he once corresponded with Arnold about some work he (my acquaintance) was doing on fluids and he (my acquaintance) thought KAM theory etc might be playing a role. The puch line was "I didn't understand his reply"QuoteHe used to work in a university close to the big factory that built digging equipment for all of Soviet Union. They had 40,000 researchers. You could just not help but be good in mathematics. so what good did all those researchers do ? I don't recall digging equipment from the soviet union having a particularly good reputationSome good points here. My PDE acquaintance is very focused which is fair enough. I tried to interest him in some applications (e.g. Black Scholes) but he was not interested. Many articles (2-6 pages) that I had to read for my research tended to be very terse, dense and taking weeks to fill in the details. A similar article in French would be 40 pages.BTW the digging equipment was not for export outside CCCP.
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EBal
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 6th, 2014, 5:32 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: CuchulainnHere's my 2 cents ..This article by V.I. Arnold is relevant I reckon.Here is an article along the same lines written by Arnold earlier (it has some nice problems as well).
 
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rmax
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January 7th, 2014, 8:03 am

Weren't people "hothoused" in CCCP?
 
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Gamal
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State of Russian Math./Science

January 7th, 2014, 1:51 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: zerdnai actually don't know how it was on mehmat and how good it was in terms of math. No pasaran policy for Jewish students was in force during Soviet times for best places in physics, namely Fizteh, Mifi, and of course Moscow State. The difference according to what i heard was in enthusiasm with which it was enforced. At Fizteh people did it, grudgingly. At MIFI they took it as a duty -- administration of special exam for Jewish students who passed first filter of written exam was semi officially called "killing the Jews". At MGU they rejoiced doing it, it was a place where it wasn't a chore, it was a calling. Andre Geim described his double failure at entrance exams in MIFI in his bio for Nobel lecture which was similar to Frenkel's failure at math exam in MGU. There is even a book with some catchy name collecting special "killer" problems actually asked and describing various tactics used. To be fair, there was a solid entryway for Jews into these universities -- first or second place in All Union olympiad. Several Jewish Fields medal winners from USSR -- Margulis, Drinfeld, Kontsevich, and Perelman were educated in Moscow after getting gold or silver in all union or international.AFAIK most Russian oligarchs are Jewish, the same with most famous Russian scientists. Why Copts in Egypt aren't persecuted this way?
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