History of the department

The Mathematics Department, a division of the Faculty of Physics, was created at the same time as the Faculty to teach students mathematics. The Department was founded by academician Vladimir Smirnov, an outstanding specialist in the theory of analytic functions. He was the author of the five volumes course in mathematics, the first two being written specially for the students of the faculties of physics, and the other being oriented to professional physicists. It is worth noting that, thanks to his professionalism and exceptional personality, Vladimir Smirnov influenced the progress of mathematics in Leningrad and in the whole USSR.

Since the creation of the department, many renowned mathematicians worked here in different areas of mathematics. In 1953, our department became officially responsible also for the research in mathematical physics, and for training future mathematical physicists. It became the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Physics.

This transformation was natural for several reasons. First, at that time, the interests of Vladimir Smirnov began to move to the mathematical physics. Second, he had tight professional and friendly relations with Vladimir Fock, the head of the Theoretical Physics Department (division of the Faculty), a great theoretical and mathematical physicist. One of the former students of Fock, professor Georgy Petrashen was one of the enthusiasts of the transformation. But, it was Olga Ladyzhenskaya who became its locomotive power. One of the brightest women in mathematics, academician Ladyzhenskaya was a professor of our department up to the end of her life.

Many world known scientists were working at the department. Ludwig Faddeev, one of the greatest mathematicians of the present, was among the first graduates of the department, apprentices of Ladyzhenskaya. After the death of Vladimir Smirnov in 1974, Ludwig Faddeev became the head of the Department. Now, he remains a professor of the Department. Many other worldwide recognized scientists were working at the department. We mention only three names: Mikhail Birman, one of the creators of the abstract scattering theory and leaders of the spectral theory of differential operators, Vladimir Buldyrev, one of the leaders of the Petersburg diffraction school, Vladimir Buslaev, a mathematician of amazingly wide field of interests, who got deep and principal results in very different domains of mathematical physics. Vladimir Buslaev was the head of the Department in 2001-2012 (up to the end of his life). Many of the graduates of the department became renowned scientists and work now as professors in major universities of Europe, USA, and other countries.

Now, at the Department, there are more than 10 professors. We try to maintain the high scientific level. Since 2012, the head of the Department is professor Tatyana Suslina, an apprentice of Mikhail Birman, a well-known specialist in the spectral theory of differential operators.

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