Biography

© 2008 Sergey Milyutin.

Alexey Milyutin was born in Moscow on the 27th of July 1925. His father, also Alexey Milyutin, was a Communist Party official in the 20s, later he worked as an editor at a radio station. His uncle, Vladimir Milyutin, was Minister of Agriculture with the new government of the Russian Republic. His mother, Olga Veiland, like her husband, was an active figure of the Communist Party. During the time of the Civil War and peace she was involved in the Party and government work, later she worked for the Rabotnitsa magazine for many years.

Before 1937, Alexey Milyutin devoted most of his time to music and seriously considered pursuing a musical career. But in 1937 he had to quit music as the tragic events of that year hit the Milyutin family among many others. Music remained Milyutin's love throughout his life.

After the Great Patriotic War burst out, the Milyutin family was evacuated from Moscow to the Ryazan Region and then to Tatarstan. It was in the town of Oktash, Tatarstan, that Milyutin graduated from the 9th grade of high school. The Milyutins came back to Moscow in 1942. Alexey was enrolled for a course at the Moscow State University, where he completed his high school education. The course administrators initially promised to admit highly performing course graduates at the University without exams (at that time, there was no issue of competition). Alexey Milyutin completed the course with good results; however the promise was not kept and he was not automatically enrolled. With a great deal of assertiveness, Alexey approached I.G. Petrovsky with an application for admission at the Department of Mechanics and Mathematics (DMM). After several meetings and discussions with Ivan Petrovsky, Milyutin was enrolled as a DMM student without exams.

In 1948, Alexey Milyutin successfully completed his studies at the DMM and was recommended as a post-graduate student to Prof. V.V. Nemytsky. Milyutin's independence as a scientist showed early. The area of research he chose for his thesis was such that his research superviser could be of little help. The topic was prompted by the issue which was discussed in the DMM hallways and which Alexey Milyutin beleived was only really interesting to himself. He didn't have the slightest idea that he was actually working on S.Banach's very difficult problem. B.Mityagin tells about it in his introduction to A. Pelczinsky's book, Linear Continuations, Linear Averaging, and Their Applications, 'C(S)-spaces of continuous functions at S-compacts is a classical subject which has been studied from different points of view in topology, functional analysis, measure theory, harmonic analysis. A simple excample of close ties between algebraic properties of C(S) and topological properties of the S-compact is the following statement, "algebras C(S1) and C(S2) are isomorphic when and only when the compacts S1 and S2 are homeomorphic". It is not difficult to think of many other such examples, which will be deeper and more informative. That made Milyutin's solution of 1951 even more unexpected; he established linear isomorphism between the spaces of continuous functions in a segment and a square. Besides, ironically (was it by chance or on purpose?) for 15 years after that, the result remained unpublished and actually unknown to many mathematicians who had been trying to solve the same problem. But there's no great loss without some small gain: even after it was solved, the problem continued to provoke more research, which among other things led to the solution of Banach's other problem, proof of topological equivalnce (homeomorphism) of all Banach's separable spaces (M.I. Kadets, C. Bessag, A. Pelczinsky, V. Klee ).

Publication of results was not a neccessary condition of formal approval of the thesis at the time. The thesis was defended in 1951, with M.I Gelfand and L.A. Lyusternik as reviewers. The work remained unpublished. The issue of the equivalence of spaces of continuous functions was raised again at the International Mathematical Congress in Moscow in 1966. Luckily, the manuscript survived and the result was presented and later published, largely due to the initiative and efforts by mathematicians from Kharkov and Poland. After such a successful start, Alexey Milyutin moved towards a different area of research, which covered some most important applied problems of the 50s and 60s. Y.M. Kazhdan writes about that time, 'In the summer of 1952, A.A. Milyutin was brought into a computation group at the Institute of Physical Problems. The group was created by L.D Landau, a full memeber of the Academy of Sciences, to run nuclear-related computations. A.A. Milyutin had no previous experience with numerical methods of problem solving. His mathematical culture, however, helped him get the feel of the existing, albeit limited, experience in the field rather quickly. Of special importance at the time were difference methods of solving problems in partial derivatives, especially issues related to the stability of the methods. A.A. Milyutin took an active part in the learning and further improvement of neccessary tecniques. One has to mention a dramatic (as it seemed then) episode connected with Milyutin's work. As it happens, the problems to be computed came from a group of physicists led by L.D. Landau. Well, after long computations (which then were made by electromechanical Mercedeses) and sophisticated analysis Milyutin discivered a mathematical mistake in the problem statement, which absolutely shocked the physicists. It took Landau's genius to assess the negative impact of the mistake. Luckily the mistake was found to have no impact on the final result. In the ensuing years, as a research fellow at the Institute of Chemical Physics (ICP), Academy of Sciences of the USSR, A.A. Milyutin continued to develop methods and explore problems related to the equations of mathematical and chemical physics.'

Here is what A.M. Kogan, a former member of ICP, said about a later period, 'In 1954, a computation group was created at ICP on the initiative of N.N. Semenov, the Institute's Director. The group creation process (interviewing, professional screening, HR approvals, etc) was a responsibility of L.A. Chudov, the first leader of the group, and A.A. Milyutin, who had brought in impressive computational experience from the Institute of Physical Problems. The new group was made up of a few young Moscow State University graduates, who had been trained in pure mathematics and had no idea of methods, let alone "tricks" of computation. The burden of training the group members in computation was almost fully borne by A.A. Milyutin. That task was further complicated by the lack of time. At the very beginning, the group was asked to do computations for problems the ICP leaders were interested in, such as moderation of fast neutrons in substances modelling the structure of human body tissues, propagation of strong explosions in various media, computation of real gas state equations, for example the state of air at high temperatures, polymer chain statistics, etc. It was from Milyutin that the group members learnt computational basics, and it was under his leadership that they explored the above-mentioned problems and mastered their computational skills from a practical assignment. A.A. Milyutin generously shared his unique computational experience (which could not be found in the existing literature) with his colleagues. For example, he always emphasized the importance of physical and chemical (and not just mathematical) considerations for a high-quality computation.