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.

See the Pantheon page of the St. Petersburg Mathematical Society site.

*Last updated: 03.01.04*
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