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
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.
Department of Mathematics
University of York