Mathematics as Driving Force for Reconstruction After the War: Creation of New International Centre for Mathematics in Ukraine
It will soon be a year since Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine escalated into the full-scale war that affects the whole of Europe and the world. Ukrainian science has also suffered significantly from the hostilities: researchers and university teachers, especially from the front-line cities, were forced to leave their homes and often start a new life from scratch. Several university buildings, in particular in the largest cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv, were seriously damaged. But despite the hard times, the Ukrainian science community does not focus solely on survival, and tries to look ahead at the rebuilding of Ukraine after the war.
In summer 2022 a group of mathematicians of Ukrainian origin initiated an ambitious project – a new Centre for mathematical sciences with a mission to support top-level research in mathematics, with special emphasis on training younger generations of scientists and the development of mathematics in Ukraine. The initiators of the project strongly believe that the new centre may consolidate the mathematical community and become a starting point for many fundamental changes in the country’s scientific infrastructure.
It will be a modern facility where mathematicians from around the world will collaborate, share new discoveries and ideas and train the next generations of scientists. The main focus will be placed on promoting research in mathematical sciences in Ukraine.
The International Centre for Mathematics in Ukraine (ICMU) will carry educational and outreach activities, and also will facilitate interaction of Ukrainian mathematicians with the global mathematical community.
In autumn ICMU was registered in Ukraine as a non-governmental organisation. An international Advisory Board involving a number of prominent mathematicians has already been formed. Two former presidents of the European Mathematical Society, Jean-Pierre Bourguignon and Pavel Exner, are members of this Board.
The Centre is proudly supported by XTX Markets, its Founding and Principal Donor. Companies, other research centres, institutes, funding agencies and foundations are welcome to become partners of the Centre.
On 12 January 2023, the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (IHES) hosted the first support meeting for the creation of the Centre, in the presence of mathematicians leading the project, representatives of European mathematical institutes and a few leading figures in mathematics philanthropy. Six Fields Medal laureates also participated in this meeting, showing their support and solidarity with the Ukrainian mathematical community. Four of them are directly involved in the creation of ICMU: Maryna Viazovska is a member of the Co-ordination Commitee while Efim Zelmanov, Vladimir Drinfeld and Peter Scholze take part in the Advisory Board. The meeting was opened by the speeches of Mykhailo Podolyak, Adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Claire Giry, Director General for Research and Innovation at the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.
ICMU has already taken its first steps, but there is still a long road ahead – to find the right building, to form the administrative team, to build up the fundraising campaign, and so on and so forth. One should not forget that the war continues, and it is very unclear when the Centre will be able to invite its first guests.
Until then ICMU is going to run its activities at partners’ premises. But let us fast forward for a moment to that time, when all the troubles are behind, and ICMU begins its regular work. It is planned that the Centre will be running thematic programs lasting from a month to a full semester, the programs will be in all areas of mathematics with some priority given to the topics represented in Ukraine. These programs will include a wide range of activity such as lectures, seminars, conferences, workshop etc. In the future, the Center will develop a foundation for long-term visiting fellowships and permanent chairs.
More information about ICMU is available on its web page at https://mathcentre.in.ua.
Written by members of the Co-ordination Committee of ICMU