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22nd October 2014, 3:16pm
Maths wizard to ignite passion for the purest science
Dr Evgeny Khukhro An eminent academic, who as a teenager represented his country in the International Mathematical Olympiad, has joined the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Lincoln, UK.

Dr Evgeny Khukhro, who sits on various editorial boards and has published more than 100 research papers in peer-reviewed journals, is hoping to pass his passion for pure mathematics on to students.

He said: “Mathematics has an inner beauty and inner logic and is the most pure of all the sciences. It’s maybe the only science where you have absolute proof. If the result is correct, it’s correct. Mankind needs something of this sort – an absolute truth, which is beautiful in itself.”

Dr Khukhro, who has held various positions at Cardiff University and the University of Manchester, explained how pure mathematical applications produce technology that we use in day to day life, such as mobile phones.

“This technology is based on physics but these principles have to be discovered,” said Dr Khukhro. “The scientific discoveries can be quite far removed from the applications. For example, Thales of Miletus, who lived between 624 BC and 546 BC, is said to have experimented with cat fur and amber (which the Greeks referred to as Elektron) to create an electrical discharge. No one at that time saw its future applications, but this developed into electricity. Much earlier than any applications, in the mid-19th Century, physics of electricity was mathematically described by Maxwell’s equations, which still underline most of modern electrical and communications technology. Physicists need a language to express their ideas and this language is provided by mathematics. It’s a universal language used to explain the logic of our thinking.”

Broadly speaking, pure mathematics studies entirely abstract concepts. The fact that mathematics finds applications in physics, engineering, economics, navigation and astronomy may seem a kind of paradox, prompting a famous physicist E. Wigner to write about “Unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences”.

To develop accurate models for describing the real world, many applied mathematicians draw on tools and techniques that are often considered to be ‘pure’ mathematics. However, many pure mathematicians draw on natural and social phenomena as inspiration for their abstract research.

Dr Khukhro’s love and fascination for mathematics started in childhood when he took part in International Mathematic Olympiads, representing Russia in the 1973 final.

One of his research specialisms is Group Theory, which studies the algebraic structures known as groups and provides a language for describing variants. Groups recur throughout mathematics, and the methods of Group Theory have influenced many parts of algebra.

Groups as measures of symmetry are used in crystallography, quantum physics and in materials science, including molecular and atomic structures.

The Lincoln School of Mathematics and Physics opens its doors in September 2014. It is the result of a close collaboration with industrial partners, and a £6.8m grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst Fund.

The School is engaged in interdisciplinary research relating to materials with the Schools of Engineering, Pharmacy, Chemistry and Life Sciences.

It offers a range of programmes from BSc up to PhD in both Mathematics and Physics, with the first undergraduate intake in September 2015.

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