Person: Vekua, Ilya Nestorovich
lya Vekua was a Georgian mathematician, specializing in partial differential equations, singular integral equations, generalized analytic functions and the mathematical theory of elastic shells.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The village of Shesheleti where Ilya was brought up, about 12 km from the Black Sea, had no high school, so Vekua attended the secondary school in Zugdidi, about 25 km to the south.
- Among the more junior members of the mathematics staff at the time that Vekua was a student we mention Archil Kharadze (1895-1976) and George Nikoladze (1888-1931).
- From his third year onwards, Vekua was elected each year as chairman of the student physics and mathematics circle.
- In 1929, while still an undergraduate, Vekua was employed as an Observer at the Georgian Geophysics Observatory.
- Vekua graduated from the Tbilisi State University in 1930 and became a postgraduate student at the USSR Academy of Sciences in Leningrad.
- Besides Vekua always behaved modestly and quietly.
- The difference in age, which at that time could pose a huge problem but is now almost obliterated, did not prevented us from the very beginning from being friends, and our scientific work, especially before Vekua moved to Moscow in 1951, and then to Novosibirsk, always proceeded closely.
- On 1 October 1935, at the initiative of Muskhelishvili and Vekua, the mathematics and mechanics section of the above-mentioned institute was transformed into a mathematical research institute under the auspices of the Georgian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
- In 1937 Vekua defended his Candidate's thesis "Propagation of elastic waves in an infinite layer" and, immediately afterwards, was promoted to assistant professor.
- The representations which Vekua introduced in this thesis, and published in papers which appeared in 1941 and 1942, were named 'Vekua representations' by Muskhelishvili.
- There have been a number of papers studying Vekua representations and in recent times they have been generalised.
- During these hard years, Vekua served first as the dean of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of Tbilisi State University and later as pro-rector.
- In 1951 Vekua was invited by Sergei Alekseevich Khristianovich, a mechanical engineer who was pro-rector of Moscow State University, to come to Moscow and work in the scientific institutions and higher educational institutions in that city.
- Using the theorems he had derived, Vekua obtained an analytic substantiation of M A Lavrentev's geometrical theory of quasiconformal mappings of plane domains, which has been recognized as one of the best achievements in the theory of functions over the last fifty years.
- Novosibirsk State University was constructed at Akademgorodok and when it opened in 1959 Vekua became its first rector.
- We have mentioned a couple of Vekua's books but he wrote a number of others.
- Vekua published Fundamentals of tensor analysis (Russian) in 1967.
- Ilya Nestorovich was a large man with a booming voice, enormously friendly and filled with joie de vivre.
- Vekua's deeply rooted optimism was not based on denying or ignoring the tragic aspects of life or of history.
- Vekua may not have known the details of Sir Thomas More's death, and the dilemma of an honourable and reasonable man confronting a tyrant moved him deeply.
Born 23 April 1907, Shesheleti, Kutaisi Governorate, Russian Empire (now Ochamchira District, Abkhazia, breakaway region of Georgia). Died 2 December 1977, Tbilisi, Georgia, USSR.
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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