On June 18 and 20, Erivelton Geraldo Nepomuceno, Professor of the Federal University Of São João Del-Rei (Brazil), held two lectures at St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI” on the topics “Computer Simulation in Science: Challenges and Opportunities” and “Exploitation of Computational Errors in Dynamical Systems Research”. In an interview for the university website, he talked about the importance of computer modeling and analysis of its errors, the similarities between Russia and Brazil, and his impressions of St. Petersburg.
– Mr. Nepomuceno, we are glad to have you here at ETU “LETI.” How was your visit?
– The visit was just marvelous. I am very grateful to the Russian people, to Dr. Butusov, the Head of Youth Research Institute and his team. I am very glad that here students are learning quite a lot. They are the future of Russia. You come here and you see the people, see the guys working. It was a great pleasure for me.
– What is the importance of the topic of your lecture for future specialists?
– Computer simulation is something that everyone has been using at some point, even the psychologists, sociologists, biologists. Everyone uses a computer to make some sort of investigation now. But the great problem is that in the past we knew a little bit better how a computer works. Nowadays, it is just a black box for many people. Professor Butusov and me are trying to understand a little bit better, how the computer works and help not just ourselves but all the science to make good use of the computer. Instead of just relying on the results of computer use, we have to try to develop new tools to criticize the results.
– It is your first time at our university. What are your impressions of ETU “LETI”?
– It was very good. I have been to not so many countries. My post-doc was at Imperial College in London and it is incredible how similar Saint Petersburg and London are. I am very glad to be here because I established so many high-quality connections at the university. I hope that you will be in the top 100 universities in the near future.
– You said about the similarities between cities. What about your audience? Are there any differences between Russian and Brazilian students?
– I could not talk to too many students; mostly with those linked to Dr. Butusov and Youth Research Institute. In this specific group, I have seen not just a group but a family. Dr. Butusov has been doing an amazing job because he is one among them. He walks, laughs, eats with them. He gives them an example so they can acquire very good qualities. If there are more groups like this, I am sure the quality of university will increase.
– In your opinion, what are the prospects of cooperation with ETU “LETI”? Can you share some plans?
– It was amazing when we found each other because you deal with very similar questions perhaps in a different approach. Nowadays, we are developing some projects to get BRICS financial support with some colleagues from India, South Africa, and China. I think that it is very important to have this kind of project between countries that are very similar and are not considered as well developed, have a huge population, area, and are full of natural resources. At some point, you can think that we are different but the Catholic and the Orthodox cultures are very similar so we should work more together. And most of all, both nations like football.
– It seems like the weather in Saint Petersburg is getting close to the Brazilian one. What are your impressions of the visit? Were you able to visit some landmarks here or try Russian cuisine?
– Saint Petersburg is such an amazing city. I had an opportunity to visit Hermitage. It was very nice to be there. In cuisine, you have very colorful food. When I was at the restaurant with Denis and his wife, I was amazed because I could see colors. One of the key aspects of Brazilian cuisine is color. We classify food by it and the good dish is a colorful one. It was a great time.
Comment by Denis Butusov, Head of the Youth Research Institute:
– From my point of view, this is a very important experience. First, our university did not have this specific connection before; we did not cooperate with the Federal University of São João Del-Rei. This university is quite young, but at the same time one of the fastest-growing in Brazil, it attracts a lot of funding and students nowadays. Professor Nepomuceno is not just an international scholar with many publications. His post-doc was at Imperial College London, and he is one of the leading experts in his field – the analysis of computer errors and their influence on the simulation results. Interaction with people of this level helps our students and postgraduate students to become more aware of their own level of research and to learn more about areas that are relevant in the world. I believe that the more mobility we have, the more we communicate with researchers from other countries, the better.
During the five days of communication, we learned a lot not only about the countries in which we live but also about the situation in science: what problems are common, which problems they no longer have, and how did they solve them. Such interaction is quite complex, involving scientific, social, and cultural aspects. Professor Nepomuceno talked with many people at our university, and I hope he enjoyed it. I think we will develop this program further: most likely, we will invite several people to the post-doc and postgraduate courses. We will gradually move from a model with short-term visits of international researchers holding lectures to a model with the involvement of high-level international lecturers at LETI on an ongoing basis in English-taught programs. Only this way we can reach the level that is necessary for sustainable growth in the rankings of the best world universities. It is priceless to be involved in science, to communicate, to visit each other, to carry out joint research. I am grateful to our university for the possibility of such communication, for the financial and organizational support of such activity.