Prof. Maurice Dodson

I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in the British-Russian Workshop in Functional Analysis held at the Euler International Mathematical Institute, St Petersburg, 13-17 October 1996. The institute is in an elegant building close to a river and was once the summer house of an aristocrat. The workshop was a very stimulating and enjoyable experience. There were about 30 participants, from different parts of the former Soviet Union and from England, Scotland and Wales (3 out of the 4 parts of the present UK). It was very nice to see some very keen and able younger mathematicians, including research students, at the meeting.

The scientific programme focussed mainly on two areas, the cohomology of Banach algebras and operator theory. In the former there are prominent schools in both Russia and Britain, and there were several talks bearing witness to continuing activity in the field. In operator theory it was the first opportunity for many of the British participants to meet representatives of the powerful Ukrainian school as well as to meet or renew acquaintance with mathematicians from St Petersburg, which remains a hotbed of analysis. Twenty-six talks were given, there was a good standard of presentation and I believe participants got a good impression of the nature of current research in the two fields in the countries concerned.

The facilities were excellent. Each participant was allocated an office with a blackboard and a networked PC. The lecture room was a very good size and with a moulded plaster ceiling, upholstered chairs and chandeliers, a pleasure to both sit and lecture in. There are overhead projectors (though these had rather delicate bulbs) and excellent state-of-the-art blackboards (much better than ours at York). There was a pleasant library (though not very well stocked), a room for discussion and refreshments of tea, coffee and biscuits. The Euler Institute is associated with the Steklov Institute and naturally there are links with the other mathematical departments in universities and institutions in the city.

The city of St Petersburg was a tremendous bonus; it must be one of the most beautiful in the world. Access to the city centre was good, by the metro or by tram. The Hermitage is of course one of the great art galleries of the world and needs several days to see properly. As well there is the opera (we were taken to a sumptuous performance of `Prince Igor'), the concerts and the city's magniifcent architecture to enjoy.

The atmosphere was altogether most agreeable and we were made to feel very welcome by our organiser Vasily Vasyunin and the Institute staff. Everyone was friendly and helpful, indeed I arrived on a late flight and was met at the airport and taken to the hotel near the Institute. The accommodation was comfortable and reasonably priced. Prior to leaving Britain, regular and helpful emails from Elena Novikova kept us informed of the arrangements for accommodation and the workshop. The inevitable administrative formalities were minimal and the visits to the city, the Hermitage and the opera were well organised. A good deal of the credit for the success of the Workshop must go to the organisers and the efficient and unobtrusive staff. On behalf of the British contingent I would like to thank them all very much and I hope there will be another opportunity to visit the Euler Institute.

Maurice Dodson
Department of Mathematics
University of York