Lavrentev, Mikhail

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lavrent’ev, Mikhail Alekseevich


Born Nov. 6 (19), 1900, in Kazan. Soviet mathematician and specialist in mechanics. Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1946) and of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (1939). Since 1957 a vice-president of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and chairman of the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Hero of Socialist Labor (1967). Member of the CPSU since 1952.

Lavrent’ev graduated from Moscow University in 1922. He began teaching in higher educational institutions in 1921, first as an instructor and then, beginning in 1929, as a professor. He taught at Moscow University from 1931 to 1941 and from 1951 to 1953, at the University of Kiev from 1939 to 1941, and, beginning in 1960, at the University of Novosibirsk. In 1935 he began working at the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. From 1935 to 1960 he worked at the academy’s V. A. Steklov Institute of Mathematics. From 1949 to 1952 he was director of the academy’s Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computer Technology, and from 1950 to 1953 and 1955 to 1957 he was academician-secretary of the academy’s section of physical and mathematical sciences. Between 1939 and 1948, Lavrent’ev worked at the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR, of which he was vice-president from 1946 to 1948. He pioneered the creation of a new major scientific center in Siberia, the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences, and became its head.

In mathematics, Lavrent’ev obtained fundamental results in set theory, the general theory of functions, the theory of approximating functions of a complex variable, the theory of conformal and quasiconformal mappings, and the theory of differential equations. He also developed a number of new lines of research in these fields. Lavrent’ev laid the foundations for the theory of nonlinear classes of quasiconformal mappings and posed a number of new problems in the theory of spatial quasiconformal mappings. His results in this field formed the basis of the geometrical method of solving a wide range of problems in mathematics and mathematical physics.

Lavrent’ev also developed new lines of research in the mechanics of continuous media and in applied physics. He obtained important results in the theory of wings, the theory of long waves, and the theory of jets. Simultaneously with foreign scientists, he gave a hydrodynamic interpretation of cumulation phenomena, the principal idea of which is that a metal under extremely high pressures, such as occur during explosions, can be considered, with sufficient reliability, as an incompressible fluid, and the formation of a cumulative jet can be considered as a liquid jet interaction problem. This idea, which was confirmed experimentally, became the basis for the further development of studies on cumulation and influenced the investigation of the physics of explosions and impulse processes in general. Applied research trends, such as the theory of directed explosion, blast welding, and high-speed impact, grew out of Lavrent’ev’s studies. He developed a new type of explosive charge, the cord charge. These studies led Lavrent’ev to create a Soviet school for the use of explosions in the national economy. His studies are characterized by an organic bond between mathematical theory and practical needs, and the ability to combine theoretical and applied investigations.

Lavrent’ev is a member of many foreign academies. He is an active member of the Academy of Sciences of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1957), an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria (1966), a corresponding member of the German Academy of Sciences in Berlin (1969), and a foreign member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1971). He is also a member of many foreign institutions and societies; he was vice-president of the International Mathematical Union from 1966 to 1970.

Lavrent’ev was elected a candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU at the Twenty-second through the Twenty-fourth Congresses of the party. He was a deputy to the fifth through eighth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. A recipient of the State Prize of the USSR (1946 and 1949) and the Lenin Prize (1958), he has been awarded five Orders of Lenin, the Order of the October Revolution, five other Orders, and various medals; he has also been awarded various foreign orders.


Metody teorii funktsii kompleksnogo peremennogo, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1965. (With B. V. Shabat.)

Variatsionnyi metod v kraevykh zadachakh dlia sistem uravnenii ellipticheskogo tipa. Moscow, 1962.


Nekotorye problemy matematiki i mekhaniki; k 70-letiiu M. A. Lavrent’eva. Leningrad, 1970.
Mikhail Alekseevich Lavrent’ev. Moscow, 1971. (AN SSSR. Materialy k biobibliografii uchenykh SSSR. Seriia matematiki. Issue 12.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.