In April 2007 the mathematical world will celebrate the Leonhard Euler’s Tercentenary. In honor of this significant event Saint-Petersburg mathematicians created a charitable foundation, which coordinates the celebration and, in a long-term perspective, supports national mathematics itself.
Investing in “pure science”
The Saint-Petersburg mathematicians organized The Euler Foundation, which objective is to give a support to scientists and, in a final analysis not allow the national mathematics to disappear from the scientific map of the world.
The Leonhard Euler’s Tercentenary will take place in April 2007. He was a great and outstanding mathematician and astronomer. Euler was born in Basel; he lived and worked in Berlin for a long time. However most of his active scientific life he spent in Saint-Petersburg, where he was elected as an academician of the Saint-Petersburg Academy of Sciences and became the founder of Russian mathematical school.
“Leonhard Euler by right is considered the greatest mathematician of the XVIII century” – says academician-secretary of the mathematical department of Russian Academy of Sciences Ludwig Faddeev. – Particularly with him starts the history of Russian mathematical science. There is an Euler gold medal, which is awarded for remarkable achievements in mathematical sciences. The international Mathematical Institute, which today is a part of Saint-Petersburg Mathematical Institute, is also named in honor of Euler. It is a point of honor of Saint-Petersburg to celebrate the great researcher’s tercentenary with dignity. The Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Science appealed to the government with request to celebrate this date in a State level. Mathematical society of Saint-Petersburg plans to take an active part in this event. The Academy of Sciences and the Saint-Petersburg State University intends to organize a worthy mathematical gathering – a special International Congress. The accomplishments of Leonhard Euler are widely acknowledged in all over the world, that’s why we are waiting for response from our foreign colleagues – especially from Switzerland, where Euler lived and worked.
In order to coordinate the celebration the scientific society and government decided to create a charitable foundation, which in future will support researchers, who work in perspective fields of mathematical sciences. The constitutors of the foundation became four Saint-Petersburg’s mathematicians: A.M. Vershik, S.V. Vostokov, I.A. Ibragimov and L.D. Faddeev. The Saint-Petersburg State University rector already agreed to enter the curator’s committee. Also many University graduates, who now are successful businessmen, are ready to invest their own funds in the assistance of national mathematics.
— The closest goal of the foundation is the organization and realization of a special mathematical congress, which would gather foremost world mathematicians in Saint-Petersburg, — says Ludwig Faddeev. — We hope that this congress will become regular and the Euler Foundation will continue its work even after the celebration. It’s a main activity will be directed to the support of mathematicians, who stay in order to work in our Country. Russian mathematical science, which takes it’s traditions from Euler should not disappear. We have our methods, traditions and scientific preferences, and international community understands that. For example, in a recent article this is said clearly by one of the most famous present-day mathematicians, the Fields Medal-winner Pierre Ren? Deligne. The assistance of young scientists is very important these days so as to make them follow these traditions. Almost all generation of my students went abroad and today grandfathers teach grandchildren mathematics.
The importance of young mathematicians support is underlined by one more constituter of the foundation — Sergei Vostokov: “For a long time I worked with schoolchildren, — he says, — I took part in organization of competitions, summer camps for young mathematicians. Now entire this system is in pitiable condition. Young scientists that work in Moscow are in better conditions. Those from other regions – even Saint-Petersburg – often have to choose between professional work and normal living. We expect that our foundation as far as possible will assist the popularization and growth of mathematical culture among the youth – support schoolchildren and students, who show themselves as talented mathematicians, organize mathematical schools and summer camps, finance publications and give grants, — and also develop those directions of research, which seem especially important to us”.
Today, when the celebration is in less than a year, the Euler Foundation has to carry out a huge amount of coordinating work. The international festivities will take place in Basel, Berlin and Saint-Petersburg. Special committees and websites, devoted to Euler are already created. In our city aside from the large-scale mathematical congress, it is planned to open the memorial dedicated to the great scientist and to name one of the streets in his honor. The Foundation manager – Victor Tolstykh explains the foundation activity: “The direct incentive for the creation of the foundation became the forthcoming tercentenary of Euler. However conversations about its necessity are held for some time already. For example, any mathematical conference, which takes place in our city, in fact exists due to the participants’ fees, that can’t cover all requirements. So it turns out that the same conference can be held on a higher level if its organizers had some additional trustworthy source of financing. In this case we could welcome more notable scientists from all over the world to our City and give them suitable reception. Today most graduates of the Mathematical and Mechanical Faculty, who are successful businessmen or working for large foreign companies, are ready to fund national mathematics. We need only some official structure, which will let them donate money according to straight rules, the same way it’s done in the civilized world”.
The Foundation creation is our little contribution in the national mathematics encouragement. Each country has its special subject of honor: some are proud of their cheese, some of their vineyards, but Russia launches spacecrafts in outer space and our solutions in high tech are often the best in the world. This is a straight merit of our mathematicians. The West today is very proud of its level of the high tech developing. But look what amount of money they invest in this scope, how many great minds from all over the world they entice. Only in California live over a hundred thousands “enticed” Russians – mostly programmers of high qualification. This is a scary number. Seventy thousands of our professional scientists, doctors of science are now providing technological prosperity of the West. And what’s about us? Nowadays in Russia stay representatives of older generationn. They can impart their knowledge, but to whom? If now people wouldn’t be interested in mathematics, then priceless tradition will be lost and in twenty-thirty years Russian mathematical school may disappear.