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Leonid Vitalievich Kantorovich

(1912 - 1986)

Kantorovich in 1930



     The characteristic trait of the scientific activity of Leonid Kantorovich, one of the greatest mathematicians of our century, is a natural combination of abstract and concrete things, of fundamental and  applied researches. His first works concerned delicate problems of the set theory. Later he became one of the first Soviet specialists on functional analysis. In the 30s he laid down the foundations of the theory of semi-ordered spaces which constitutes now a vast chapter of functional analysis bordering algebra and the measure theory. At the same time he anticipated the ideas of the future theory of generalized functions which became current only in the 50s. Kantorovich obtained beautiful results on the approximation theory. The approach to Sobolev's embedding theorem suggested by Kantorovich and based on his estimations of integral operators is well known.
      Along with these (and many other) works on "pure" mathematics, Kantorovich conducted systematically researches of applied character, which were by no means separated from the "fundamental" part of his work.  General conceptions and broad outlook which were characteristic for his works on functional analysis ensured his success in applied fields. A characteristic example is a famous work "Functional analysis and applied mathematics" which is a bright confirmation of S.L.Sobolev's statement "Modern computational mathematics is inconceivable without Banach spaces as well as without computers". The works of Kantorovich on applying functional analysis to computational mathematics, in particular, on the Newton method, are well known.
      Kantorovich was one of the creators of linear programming. He laid down the foundations of this discipline as far back as in 1939. Kantorovich attained international fame by his works on the mathematical economics (Lenin Prize, 1965; Nobel Prize, 1975).
      One cannot embrace all aspects of scientific, pedagogical and organizing activity of Kantorovich in one short note. In conclusion, we would like to mention that for many years Kantorovich was closely connected with the Leningrad University, in particular, with the Chair of Mathematical Analysis. He graduated from this chair and worked here in the 30s--50s. In the early fifties he began to give a course on functional analysis (almost first in the USSR). This brilliant course affected very much the professional formation of mathematicians graduated from our Department in the 50s. The monograph "Functional analysis in normed spaces" by L.V.Kantorovich and G.P.Akilov was written later on the basis of this course.
      For detailed interesting information on the life and scientific views of Leonid Kantorovich, we refer to his paper "My way in mathematics", Uspehi matematicheskih nauk, vol. 42 (2), 1987.

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Last updated:  03.01.04 J