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Kharkov (Ukraine), June 2-5, 1998

by Radovan Zentner

Dept. Radio Communications and Microwave Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, University of Zagreb, Unska 3, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia

(from IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, V.40, N3, July  1998, pp.79-80)

The MMET'98 openinig session.
The MMET'98 opening session. 
I experienced an exceptional combination of warm hospitality, friendship, and mathematics this June, as I attended the Seventh International Conference on Mathematical Methods in Electromagnetics (MMET*98), held in Kharkov, Ukraine, June 2-5, 1998. A small group of us, arriving by direct flight from Vienna, were almost scared away, when asked to fill out customs forms inherited from  the Soviet times. Fortunately, friendly customs officials, in spite of a limited knowledge of English, eliminated our apprehension, and showed us that changes have happened, here.

The city of Kharkov, located in the East Ukrainian steppe region with a population of two million, is an important center of science and education. Its State University, founded in 1805 by imperial decree, is highly reputed in mathematical and physical sciences.

The oldest church in the City of Kharkov.
The oldest church in the City of Kharkov.
The concept of the MMET symposia - held since 1988, at first as a meeting of young soviet scientists - is to organize a gathering of Westerners involved in electromagnetics with their colleagues from the FSU (former Soviet Union). Previous MMET gatherings took place in other parts of Ukraine, e.g., in Alushta and Gurzuf on the Black Sea coast of the Crimean peninsula; in Kharkov; and in the city of Lviv.

MMET*98 was organized by professor Eldar Veliev, from the Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics, National Academy of Sciences (IRE NAS), Kharkov. The technical program Committee was co-chaired by Professor Alexander Nosich, from IRE NAS, and Dr. W. Ross Stone from the IEEE AP-S (and Alex Nosich must be given all of the credit-WRS). The committee included well-known and respected members of the international electromagnetics community. There were many organizations supporting the event, including the Ukrainian IEEE AP/MTT/ED/AES-SS Joint Chapter, the Institute of Radiophysics and Electronics and the Institute of radio Astronomy of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, the USAF European Office of Aerospace R&D, and the US Office of Naval Research European Office.

The contributed papers were presented in English (the working language since 1990), in four parallel whole-day sessions, with the following topics:
  Synthesis and Inverse problems  Gratings and FSS  Electromagnetic Theory  Ionospheric Electromagnetics  Time-Domain Electromagnetics Waveguide Circuits  Electromagnetics Signal Processing Scattering and RCS Antennas and Arrays Computational Techniques Complex Media Analytical Regularizations Open Waveguides Eigenvalue Problems Random Media & Rough SurfacesFiber Optics and Lasers 

The MMET'98 participants, with the Kharkov State University building in the background
The MMET'98 participants, with the Kharkov State University building in the background
Every day started with a plenary session that included three invited papers. Although the number of papers from non-FSU countries was still rather small (50), a remarkable quantum of 272 papers in total appeared, in 935 pages of the proceedings. A characteristic feature of the conference is a strong emphasis on the analytical and mathematical aspects of electromagnetic research, together with detailed physical analyses of wave phenomena. All sessions were held in the 14-floor maze of the University building, with a puzzling elevator system, a real challenge to an engineer.

Apart from the exchange of information during the sessions, MMET offered a dense social program, which enabled more contacts between the participants. This included the very interesting city tour, in a "historical" bus from the 60s, a genuine Ukrainian product from the bus factory of Lviv. It is also included the conference banquet, which ended in a lively atmosphere of Ukrainian dances and Ukrainian vodka. Another event was the picturesque theater performance of Giovanni Boccaccio's  "Decameron", with the cast of puppets and actors, organized exclusively for the conference participants.

The summary of the symposium was at the barbecue party, in one of the many parks of Kharkov, where a soccer match with European versus Asian participants took place, in an ad hoc improvised field. It was a good overture to the World Soccer Championship in France. 

Some MMET participants at dinner in local restaurant: (l-r) P.D. Smith, E.D. Vinogradova, R. Zentner, E. Michielssen, F. Gardiol., N. Engheta, M. Marciniak
Some MMET participants at dinner in local restaurant: (l-r) P.D. Smith, E.D. Vinogradova, R. Zentner, E. Michielssen, F. Gardiol., N. Engheta, M. Marciniak
Unfortunately, many participants left Kharkov before the concluding social event: the excursion to the Holy Hills, an enclave of churches and monasteries dating back to the thirteenth century, located on the river of Seversky Donets, some 100 miles southeast of Kharkov. In this historical site and popular local vacation resort, an exceptional underground corridor system can be visited, built inside of the limestone hill, for the protection of monks, some several hundred years ago. The weather we had were perfect, so that some of us took a bath in the river, while others went for the quest of climbing the cliff of Holy Hill, itself.

At the closing ceremony of MMET*98, the Young Scientist Awards were announced:

First prize: G.Bit-Babik, Tbilisi State University, Georgia for "The Method of Auxiliary Sources for Investigation of Scattered Field Singularities and its Application for the Inverse Problems"

Second prizes:  M. B. Tchernyaeva, Nizhny Novgorod State University, Russia, for "Limb-Viewing Refrection Inverse Problem in the Duct Case", and D.A. Kondratenko, Novosibirsk State University, Russia, for "Wave Propagation in Strongly Non-homogeneous Waveguide"

Third prizes: M. Gilman, Institute of Problems in Mechanics RAS, Moscow, Russia, for "Averaged Rough Surface Backscattering vs. Bispectral Characteristics of Surface Shape"; D. Y. Chumakov, Institute of Nuclear Problems, Minsk, Belarus, for "Numerical Simulation of Interaction of Shortwave High Laser Pulses with Substance"; and F. Dikmen, Gebze Institute of Technology, Turkey, for "Scalar Wave Diffraction from Infinitely Thin Perfectly Conducting Circular Ring".

A special "V. G. Sologub Award for a Remarkable Contribution to the Development of Analytical Regularization Techniques" went to D. Kuryliak, K. Kobayashi, Z. Nazarchuk, and S. Koshikawa (Ukraine and Japan) for the paper entitled "Wiener-Hopf Analysis of Axial Symmetric Diffraction Problems for Open-Ended Cylindrical Waveguide Cavities". The prize for the most-distant travelers of the symposium went to I.B. Yumov from Ulan-Ude, M. V. Tinin from Irkutsk in Eastern Siberia, and to R. Dowden, New Zealand. All the awards included a special liquid supplement: a bottle of fine Crimean rose champagne.

This MMET symposium continued with the mission of establishing a communication forum between East and West electromagnetic research engineers and scientists, and encountered increased success. Therefore, I look forward to seeing you at the next MMET, on some day of the year 2000, most probably in Kharkov again. At this point, I would like to congratulate the Organizing Committee on the successful and enjoyable meeting. I also want to thank all of the young scientists from Kharkov State University, who participated in the organization of the event and took care of every problem that might have occurred during the symposium.


Radovan Zentner