◀ ▲ ▶History / 20th-century / Person: Samarskii, Alexander Andreevich
Person: Samarskii, Alexander Andreevich
Alexander Andreevich Samarskii was a Ukranian-born mathematician who worked in mathematical physics, applied mathematics, numerical analysis and mathematical modelling.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- At the age of 14, Samarskii entered the Anton Chekhov school in Taganrog.
- Perhaps not surprisingly, the school had a strong reputation for literature and Samarskii was attracted to this as well as to mathematics and physics.
- The Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union meant that initially the war had little effect on life in Moscow and Samarskii continued his studies there.
- As a student, Samarskii could have avoided military service but on 6 July he submitted an application to join the military feeling that the most important thing was defending his homeland.
- After the German offensive, named Operation Typhoon, aimed at taking Moscow, began in October Samarskii was part of the Division that moved east of Yelnya to engage the German advance.
- Samarskii, however, survived and went to join those defending Naro-Fominsk.
- With the Rifle Division destroyed, Samarskii joined the 108th Infantry Division.
- Samarskii was with those in the south and he was given the task of acting as a scout behind the German lines.
- Samarskii saw none of this, however, for he was in hospital for nine months, enduring many operations which removed 30 bomb fragments from his body.
- This friend went to the University, now back in Moscow, and arranged for Samarskii to return there to complete his studies.
- Samarskii undertook research on mathematics and theoretical physics and Tikhonov suggested that he might try to do some experimental physics.
- Samarskii took Tikhonov's advice and during the next three years he published around 20 papers.
- On 10 July 1948, laboratory number 8 of the Geophysical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences was created with Tikhonov as the head and Samarskii as a leading researcher.
- In addition to this position, Samarskii was employed as a lecturer in the Mathematics Department at the Moscow State University where he taught mathematical physics.
- In 1949, a direct numerical analysis of the nuclear explosion was performed for the first time under the supervision of Tikhonov and Samarskii; later, their scientific group computed the explosion dynamics of the thermonuclear bomb.
- It was at this time that Samarskii began to work actively in the field of finite-difference schemes and created a scientific school in this direction.
- Samarskii became one of the leading world authorities in the theory of finite-difference schemes.
- Igor Tamm, Andrei Sakharov and Yakov Zeldovich were the main physicists working on the bomb and they would come to Samarskii and his fellow mathematicians and computers to seek mathematical solutions to their physical problems.
- One of the major advances made by Samarskii in the atomic weapons programme was to discover a method to allow parallel calculations by the 30 girl computers.
- At the time this was thought to be impossible but Samarskii developed an approach based on finite difference schemes.
- Of course the research Samarskii did on the atomic bomb project was classified and he worked on this until about 1980, writing around 500 classified papers.
- However, when there were celebrations on the 50th anniversary of the first atomic bomb test, Samarskii was not invited.
- Tikhonov was appointed as deputy director and Samarskii became the head of the largest department.
- Samarskii was the author of the principal results in the theory of differential equations with smooth and discontinuous coefficients and the theory of nonlinear equations; he posed and studied a number of nonclassical problems in mathematical physics.
- The scientific activity of Aleksander Samarskii typically involved the stating of problems related to numerical experiments performed on modern computers, the development of the theory of mathematical and numerical simulation of complex physical processes, and the devising of efficient finite-difference methods.
- Samarskii was honoured for his contributions with the award of the Lenin Prize in 1962.
- In 1982 Samarskii was appointed as head of the department of Computational Methods in the Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics.
- Samarskii was the first to study the diffusion chaos phenomena.
- We have already mentioned some honours which were given to Samarskii.
- Samarskii died following a long and difficult illness.
Born 19 February 1919, Amvrosiivka, Donetsk, Ukraine. Died 11 February 2008, Moscow, Russia.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive