The Great Mathematical Workshop has launched

On July 12–16 the first week of the Great Mathematical Workshop (GMW), dedicated to The Year of Science and Technology in Russia, took place. Four venues: Euler International Mathematical Institute (St. Petersburg), International Scientific and Methodological Center of HSE (Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod), the Tomsk State University (Tomsk) and the Mathematical Center in Akademgorodok (Novosibirsk) have launched 29 projects with more than 170 participants. The end-users of the projects were representatives of scientific and educational organizations, as well as the business community. At the heart of each project lies an open problem. In a relatively short period of time — two intensive weeks, separated by a four-week intermodule — the participants plan to determine the way of solving the proposed problem or even implement their ideas into reality

GMW has several important goals, one of which is to develop a model of professional communication, that will allow scientists engaged in solving various problems to interact with each other. This is necessary so that mathematical directions stop being isolated, so that participants have the opportunity to learn and, therefore, use methods from various fields of science. In March of this year, during Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin's visit to the Mathematical Center in Akademgorodok, the director of the Center, Evgeny Vdovin, presented to the PM a new model for organizing research.

Evgeny Vdovin, director of the Mathematical Center in Akademgorodok, comments:

The idea of ​​creating the Workshop was born when we realized that mathematicians have little interaction with each other and with specialists from other spheres. GMW is designed and organized so that researchers have no constraints in interaction — it is a space for diversity and interdisciplinarity. Students, young researchers and schoolchildren working on projects — they all are people from different places with different backgrounds and experiences.

Among the presented 29 projects there are both fundamental and purely applied projects. All of them are combined into 5 thematic clusters. E.g. the cluster "Mathematics and Life" includes the projects "Algebra, Geometry and Infographics", "Machine extraction of meaning from text and its applications in the tourism business", "Influence of news on financial markets" and others.

Timur Nasybullov, Deputy Director of the Mathematical Center in Akademgorodok, says:

All these projects are connected with real life. Moreover, designers, programmers, physicians, biologists, forecasters and specialists from other fields are directly engaged in work together with mathematicians. This interdisciplinarity is precisely what creates a new type of professional communication.

The past intensive week laid the foundation for further development: the participants analyzed the problems, studied the existing methods of solving problems, put forward hypotheses for the next step and made reports on their progress at the plenary sessions of the clusters.

Alina Mikhailenko, curator of the project "Three-dimensional convolutions for neural networks" and researcher of the NSU Laboratory of Applied Digital Technologies, says:

I really enjoyed the first week. These are days full of many ideas, communication with smart people, the implementation of complex hypotheses that were uttered by you three months ago without thinking that this could be a real solution.

Nikolay Abrosimov, curator of the project "Geometry of knots and topology of fractals", senior researcher at the Regional Scientific and Educational Mathematical Center of TSU, comments:

Expectations were fully met — engaged guys came to our team, with many of them we've never worked before. We managed to make good progress in solving the problem, obtained new theorems. Together, we all got into a working rhythm quite easily. Many mathematicians will understand: when you enter a work rhythm with a co-author, it becomes much easier to work than alone. 

At the plenary sessions of the clusters participants actively discussed approaches of each other, which opened up opportunities for using the newly proposed methods or the expert opinion of other participants and curators to get even closer to solving the presented problems.

Anastasia Akulova, curator of the project “Analysis of medical images. Fetal Brain", 4th-year student of the Mathematics and Mechanics Department of NSU, comments:

For our project, the plenary sessions turned out to be useful because the participants of other projects gave ideas on how to simplify some processes, for example, segmentation in our case. 

Sergey Sharkov, participant of the project "Automation of recognition of printing defects on a 3D printer", a graduate of Gymnasium №166 of Novoaltaisk, shares his impressions:

The plenary session was an incredibly cool event, for which I am very grateful to the organizers. First of all, there you get to know the projects of others, learn what else mathematics can offer, and this is just amazing. It is also worth mentioning that when presenting your project, you and your team are asked questions, which can significantly help in identifying points of growth, as well as in understanding the project as a whole. Moreover, having looked at the projects of others, there is an opportunity to look at your project with a fresh look and, possibly, find better ways to solve problems. 

The second intensive week of the Great Mathematical Workshop will be held from 16 to 21 August.