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Highlights of MMET*94,
the Mathematical Methods in Electromagnetic Theory Conference

September 7-10, 1994, in Kharkov

by Donald R. Wilton
Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Houston University Park
Houston, TX 77004,Tel: (713) 743-4442

Phrabhakar H. Pathak
ElectroScience Lab, 1320 Kinnear Road, Columbus, OH 43210, Tel: (614) 422-6097

(from IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, V.37, N 5, October 1995, pp.108-112)

Professor D.Wilton presenting his paper at MMET*94 in the Kharkov State Univercity. On the wall is a quotation from Maxim Gorky, which  reads, "A human - this sounds proud!"

Professor D.Wilton presenting his paper at MMET*94 in the Kharkov State Univercity. On the wall is a quotation from Maxim Gorky, which  reads, "A human - this sounds proud!"

The third conference on Mathematical Methods in Electromagnetic Theory (MMET*94) was held September 7-10, 1994, in Kharkov, Ukraine. Kharkov is one of the most important industrial and scientific centers, and is located near the eastern border of the Ukraine, almost due south of Moscow. Its economy is based primarily on production of heavy equipment and food products, and it has a well-developed transportation industry. More than 200 scientific research and design institutes, including seven institutes of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, are said to be located in Kharkov. The city is easily reached from Kiev by air or rail.

As the conference's name suggests, this meeting focuses on mathematical, asymptotic, and numerical techniques in electromagnetic theory, and is the fifth such conference held biennially in the Ukraine. This report summarizes our experiences traveling to and participating in this conference last September.

We arrived in Kiev on Sunday afternoon, September 4, and were greeted by a party of Ukrainian hosts that included Prof. V.I. Naidenko of the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, his student, Anna Dudko, and Vladimir Veremey, of the Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics of the National Academy of Sciences in Kharkov. Anna's father drove us from the airport to a hotel operated by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, while Anna pointed out some of the city's highlights. The hotel was located in a quiet, wooded neighborhood in Kiev, and we found it quite comfortable. Though the hotel staff spoke no English. Anna helped us with checking in. Afterwards, she led us on a brief walking tour of the neighborhood, pointing out the money exchanges, shops, monuments, and Metro stops along the way. That evening and the following morning we simply succumbed to our accumulated jet lag.

We did not see our hosts again until mid-afternoon Monday, after they had completed the formidable task of greetings all of the Westerns, including several Young Scientists, arriving in Kiev en route to the conference. At that time, Anna showed up the hotel with a rented minibus to transport the group to the airport. Again with her help - and using a little German - we were able to get checked out and on our way. Though our flight to Kharkov was delayed, by early evening we were able to board the Air Kiev turboprop, using the tickets. Vladimir had purchased for us earlier in the week. When we asked about checking luggage, Vladimir told us that on this flight we "had the opportunity to take all our luggage aboard!" Our delay in Kiev, however, caused some confusion as to our arrival time in Kharkov, and the bus sent to meet us at the airport had already arrived at the airport and returned to the city empty when we arrived. Finally the bus, with conference Chairman Eldar Veliev in tow, returned, and we were finally deposited at our respective hotels before midnight. Ours was Hotel Kiev, one of the nicest hotels in the city, and one originally accessible only to upper-ranking members of the Communist Party.

Indeed, it was certainly up to or exceeded Western standards in most respects. One exception, though, was the lack of hot water! As we were later to learn, however, no hot water would be supplied to the entire city of Kharkov until the end of September.

Tuesday morning, as we breakfasted in the hotel, we were joined by many of the other conference attendees, including the Young Scientists who were housed in nearby facilities. Though none of us could read the Ukrainian menus, we quickly adopted to the staff's approach of reciting the English names they knew - eggs, ham, coffee, bread, honey, etc. - while we in turn nodded "Da" or "Net".

Professor Revaz Zaridze came to MMET*94 from Tbilisi, the capital of civil-war-torn Gergia, to present two papers on the auxiliary-source method, and pulse-wave scattering.

Professor Revaz Zaridze came to MMET*94 from Tbilisi, the capital of civil-war-torn Gergia, to present two papers on the auxiliary-source method, and pulse-wave scattering.

Late that morning, we walked the short distance to the conference venue at Kharkov State University, completed our registration for the conference, and received our conference proceedings, maps, and other registration materials. The staff at the registration table was extremely helpful and efficient, and offered us a tour of the University, which we accepted. Afterwards, we met with Eldar Veliev and Alex Nosich, the primary organizers of the conference. Alex had just arrived by train from Moscow, where he had met and escorted to Kharkov all but one of the conference visitors arriving from Japan. The remaining one, Prof. T. Itakura - whose domestic flight from Vladivostok was delayed by more than 24 hours - was rescued the next day by two "Victors": Victor Kalinichev, of the Moscow Technical University of Power Engineering, and Victor Apeltcin, of the Moscow State University. They managed to get him to the station just in time to catch the overnight train to Kharkov.

A similar story, with an equally happy ending, involved Ricardo Marques, of Spain. He arrived in Kiev on the last flight of the day, due to a mix-up, was not met at the airport. He then called Alex in Kharkov. Alex and Eldar had just 40 minutes to organize their successful rescue operation. They called a friend in Kiev, who rushed to the airport, somehow located Ricardo, and managed to get him to the train station just five minutes before its overnight departure for Kharkov.

The meeting began on Wednesday morning, with the opening ceremony. Included in the ceremony were welcoming remarks by the following distinguished speakers, representing the organizers, sponsors, and various branches of Ukrainian Science:

  • E. I. Veliev, Chair of the MMET*94 Organizing Committee
  • O. A. Tretyakov, Chair of the Ukrainian URSI Commission B
  • I. I. Zalyubovsky, Vice Rector of Kharkov State University
  • V. M. Yakovenko, Director of the Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences
  • A. I. Nosich, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee

The organizers of MMET*94 also acknowledged the support and sponsorship of the following organizations:

  • Ukrainian and International URSI Commission B
  • European Research Office of USARDSG-UK
  • Kharkov State University
  • Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics and Institute of Radio Astronomy of the Ukrainian Academy of Science
  • ISKRA Research and Manufacturing Company and TRIKOM Trade House

Following the opening ceremony, the scientific sessions began in earnest. Generally, two parallel sessions were held, with English as the official language. The facilities for both sessions were very good, but most interesting to us was the room in which overheads were projected onto a wall, next to what appeared to be a bas-relief of Lenin with accompanying quotation. (Later, we learned it was actually Maxim Gorky, the revolutionary writer.) The sessions covered a wide range of topics in electromagnetic applications, and included sessions on high-frequency methods, optical fibers, scattering and diffraction, transients and time-domain methods, gratings and rough surfaces, open waveguides and resonators, and regularization techniques. There were also sessions on remote sensing, numerical methods, waves in non-linear and exotic media, antennas and propagation, inverse and synthesis problems, and waveguides and discontinuities. The conference included 119 paper overall, representing 15 countries. Many of the sessions were begun with an invited presentation by one of the following nine invited speakers:

  • E.Vasiliev, Moscow Power Engineering Institute, Russia
  • P. Pathak, ElectroScience Laboratory, Ohio State University, USA
  • E. A. Luneberg, DLR, Institute for High Frequency Technology, Germany
  • D. R. Wilton, University of Houston, USA
  • M. Hashimoti, Osaka Electro-Communications University, Japan
  • O. Tretyakov, Kharkov State University, Ukraine
  • T. Itakura, Kumamoto University, Japan
  • R. Petit, Faculte de St. Jerome, France
  • Y. Shifrin, Kharkov Technical University of Radioelectronics, Ukraine

In our opinion, the presentations in each sessions were generally very well-done, and of high quality and technical content. There was usually time for questions following each paper, and the ensuring discussions were lively - with only occasional lapses into Russian. Since the focus of the conference was on mathematical methods, we expected a mathematical emphasis to the presentations; nevertheless, we were very impressed at the high level and mathematical rigor of much of the work reported. Certainly, we saw no evidence that there has been very impressed at the high level and mathematical rigor of much of the work reported. Certainly, we sow no evidence that there has been any diminished emphasis on the strong mathematical flavor that was long a hallmark of Soviet electromagnetics research. It was a bit surprising, however, to find so few papers on purely numerical methods, such as the finite-element method. During each morning and afternoon session there was a coffee break, which afforded us time to meet other participants and discuss the papers. Lunches were also available within the University, in a cafeteria reserved for conference participants: many technical discussions and friendships were initiated during this informal lunch hour. The more adventurous found lunch at one of the numerous kiosks, and enjoyed a stroll in the large park adjacent to the University.

On Wednesday evening, several of us were invited guests of conference organizers Veliev and Nosich, at a local restaurant in Kharkov. The restaurant was housed in an elegant old home, which only  few years earlier had been a local police station. The service, meal, and company were all excellent. The official conference banquet was held on Thursday evening, and was a truly unforgettable affair. An informal gathering, it included plenty of traditional local food and color, as well as the five traditional "s's": dining, drinking, dancing, and drinking.

We were invited, on Friday afternoon, along with three or four other attendees, to visit the Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics, belonging to the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The Institute is located north of the city of Kharkov, and it took about a half an hour by car to reach it, from the conference site at the University. One passes close to the Tupolev aircraft factory, and several satellite/aerospace electronics industries on the way to the Institute. The Institute was originally established around 1955, to study plasmas for TOKAMAK diagnostics and sensing. The staff and the experimental facilities of the Institute are housed in one large building. We were greeted there by Academician Vladimir Yakovenko, who is the present Director of the Institute, and who gave us a grief overview of the activities of the Institute before we commenced our guided tour of the research facilities. Since its inception, the Institute has gradually diversified and enlarged its breads of activities; this is evidenced by the fact that there are now several research laboratories formed within the Institute, to work on different research topics.

Obviously, it was not possible to visit every laboratory, and to fully appreciate the broad range of research activities in just a couple of hours that afternoon. Indeed, we only managed to visit four such labs. One of the labs visited was an outgrowth of the early work done at the Institute on plasma diagnostics. This particular lab has been involved in the development of a variety of closed-waveguide-type circuit components, for use in the millimeter-wave region. Also, the Institute has been involved for some time in the successful development of tubes for the generation of relatively high-power millimeter waves. Another lab was involved in the development and use of a highly sensitive magnetic radiospectrometer, in the millimeter wave region, to study electron relaxation and nuclear polarization of materials. The main part of the spectrometer is an open resonator, with a double diffraction grating. Dr. Luken, who is the head of one of the labs, gave us interesting demonstration of a noise radar, which he and his co-workers have constructed. Noise radars have some very useful characteristics (e.g., they are less subject to interference or jamming). One of the final labs we visited was involved with the development of computer codes, with associated graphics, for analyzing the behavior of passive-waveguide components: these components can also be connected together, as in a corporate-feed structure, for a waveguide-fed antenna array. Toward the end of the tour, we were given a brief presentation by yet another group of researchers, who were involved in the development of both active and passive devices for satellite remote sensing. A number of slides in their presentation depicted various types of sensors, and the environment they were designed to sense (e.g., oil spills, etc.). The visit to the Institute was very interesting, and we came away with the strong feeling that the Institute is made up of very excellent and highly talented researchers.

By noon on Saturday, the conference began winding down Alex Nosich presided over the closing ceremonies, and among the closing announcements were the names of the winners of the MMET*94 Student Paper Competition, as follows: