The French-Russian Mathematics Laboratory in Moscow

LIFR MI2P, Laboratoire International Franco-Russe de Mathématiques et Interaction avec l'Informatique et la Physique Théorique is, as its name indicates, a French-Russian mathematics research lab that focuses on fundamental mathematics and its interaction with computer science and theoretical physics. It was created by a Founding Agreement between the CNRS (the French National Center for Scientific Research) and the IUM (the Independent University of Moscow). This agreement was signed on March 11, 2002, at the French Embassy in Moscow by the Director of the CNRS, Madame G.Berger and the President of the IUM, professor Yu.Ilyashenko in the presence of the Ambassador, Monsieur C.Blanchemaison and several eminent personalities of the French and Russian scientific world. Three institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), the Steklov Institute (MIAN), the Central Economics and Mathematics Institute (TsEMI) and the Institute for Information Transmission Problems (IPPI) are associated to this agreement.

The aim of the Laboratory is to bring together into a joint team several French and Russian researchers working on a wide spectrum of mathematical problems, ready to interact with the other sciences. The lab is at present a small one (8-10 collaborators) and has a modest budget, but its founders expect that it will have an influence far surpassing the direct scientific contribution of its permanent staff: it is meant to function as a meeting place for visitors coming from France (not only from Paris) and from Russia (not only from Moscow) for conferences, seminars, and colloquia, or for short-term visits.

The laboratory budget does not include a salary fund. In accordance to its Founding Agreement, the French collaborators (who work at the lab for a year) keep their salaries from their permanent CNRS positions, and receive a special supplement to their salary (sufficient to live comfortably in Moscow), while the Russian collaborators keep their salaries at their main place of employment. The bulk of the lab budget is spent on conferences, colloquia, invited scientists, and trips abroad (mainly to France). Further, the Laboratory is supported by the French Embassy in Moscow (mainly in the form of travel grants) and the RFFI (Russian Foundation for Basic Research) in the form of grants to research teams associated with the lab.

Since it was created on paper, the Laboratory was officially inaugurated on November 21, 2002 and has become a working institution: housed in three rooms at the IUM, it has all the necessary equipment (computers, printer, fax, copier, scanner), a fast Internet connection, and, most important, a staff of eight to ten permanent (i.e., recruited for a year or more) people: four Russian researchers, three French researchers, the director and the secretary. During the first year of functioning, there were only two French researchers, namely David Bessis (a graduate of the École Normale Supérieure rue d'Ulm specializing in topology and algebra, PhD advisor Michel Broué) and Jean-Christophe Novelli (from the same school, specializing in combinatorics, representation theory, and computer science, PhD advisor Daniel Krob), the Russian ones were Ivan Dynnikov (who also works at Moscow State University, PhD advisor S.P.Novikov, low-dimensional topology, theoretical physics), Gleb Koshevoi (who also works at TsEMI, former pupil of Yu.I.Manin, combinatorics, representation theory, discrete math, applications to economic theory), Serge Lando (who also works at the IUM, former pupil of V.I.Arnold, geometric combinatorics, singularities, knots) and Irina Paramonova (of the IUM, former pupil of A.A.Kirillov, representation theory). The director is Alexei Sossinski of the IUM and the Institute for Problems in Mechanics of RAS (topology, knots, algorithmic problems). After September 2003, the two French collaborators were replaced by two others, Thierry Barbot (of the ENS of Lyon, dynamical systems, cosmology) and Florent Hivert (of Marne-la-Vallée, computer science, Hopf algebras). A third French researcher, Paul Zinn-Justin (of Orsay, theoretical physics) joined the team in March 2004 for his one-year stay. Besides these three, a fourth French researcher (of Russian origin), Serge Nechaev (Orsay, theoretical physics) worked in the lab for 6 months (Sept. 2003 to April 2004).

The day-to-day administrative and financial management of the laboratory is carried out by its director. The main axes of scientific research (quite varied, and emphasizing interdisciplinarity), established by the Agreement creating the Laboratory, are specified by its director under the guidance of the Scientific Committee. The latter consists of V.Buchstaber (Moscow State University, Russia), P.Deligne (IAS, Princeton, USA), L.Farinas del Cerro (STIC, CNRS, France ), Yu.Ilyashenko (IUM, Russia and Cornell, USA), C.Peskine (SPM, CNRS, France) and J.Van Benthem (CWI, Netherlands and Stanford, USA).

To obtain additional information about the Laboratory (and/or the IUM), see the article by A.Sossinski and M.Tsfasman in the Gazette des Mathématiciens. Concerning the French positions at the Laboratory, one can obtain information from the direction of the CNRS from M. Christian Peskine for mathematics <peskine AT>, Veronique VIGUIE DONZEAU-GOUGE <veronique.donzeau-gouge AT> and Mme. Valerie Berte <berthe AT> for computer science, and M. Christian Chardonnet <Christian.Chardonnet AT> for theoretical physics, or by writing to the Laboratory director <lifr AT>.