In memory of Dmitry Shirkov

News, 03 March 2023

3 March marks the 95th anniversary of the birth of a great theoretical physicist, an organizer of science, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Dmitry Vasilievich Shirkov (1928 – 2016).

In 1949, after his graduation from the Faculty of Physics of Lomonosov Moscow State University, he joined the Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Afterwards, he worked at the Steklov Mathematical Institute, at the special facilities of the USSR Nuclear Project in the city of Arzamas-16.

Dmitry Shirkov was invited to work at the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics JINR since the Institute’s foundation in 1956. In the 1960s, the scientist created and headed the Department of Theoretical Physics of Sobolev Institute of Mathematics SB of USSR AS in Novosibirsk Akademgorodok and the Department of Theoretical Physics at Novosibirsk State University.

At the end of 1969, he came back to JINR and headed a sector of the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics. In 1993-1998 he was BLTP Director. Later, he became BLTP Honorary Director. During his work at BLTP, Dmitry Vasilievich maintained a creative scientific atmosphere. He developed international cooperation and attracted young personnel. It allowed the Laboratory to strengthen its status as the world’s largest centre of theoretical physics.

Being an author and a co-author of more than 200 scientific papers, D. V. Shirkov made a great contribution to the general theory of matrix scattering and a strict formulation of the method of ultraviolet divergence renormalisation. A widely known in the world monograph “Introduction to theory of Quantized Fields” by Shirkov and his teacher Nikolai Bogoliubov includes these studies. This scientific paper describes the concept of renormalisation in quantum field theory. The renorm-group method developed on the basis of this concept became widely used in various fields of physics, for example, in statistical physics and the theory of critical phenomena. In addition, it continues developing to this day. Thus, in 2021, BLTP JINR physicists derived the most general formulas that make it possible to obtain multi-loop renormalisation group equations in an arbitrary generalisation of the Standard Model without calculating Feynman diagrams.

In collaboration with Bogoliubov, Shirkov also built up the axiomatic perturbation theory for quantum field theory and developed the renorm-group method. Dmitry Vasilievich created and developed the method of quantitative description of elastic and quasi-elastic hadron collisions at low energies. He introduced the concept of the universal short-wave repulsion of hadrons, affecting strong interactions at low energies. Dmitry Shirkov developed a new description method for low-energy scattering of strongly interacting particles. The papers of this cycle were collected in the monograph “Dispersion theories of strong interactions at low energies” (together with V. A. Meshcheryakov and V. V. Serebryakov) The application of the quantum field theory methods to the superconductivity theory was shown in the monograph “A new method in the superconductivity theory” published by D. V. Shirkov together with N. N. Bogoliubov and V. V. Tolmachev.

Among the applied results of his scientific activity was the elaboration of methods to solve the kinetic equation. It describes the processes of neutron diffusion and moderation, which are of great importance in the theory of nuclear reactors.

Dmitry Shirkov initiated the development of analytical calculation systems on computers at JINR. The studies in this direction led to the world famous results obtained by Dubna theorists in calculations of higher orders of perturbation theory in chromodynamics and supersymmetry theories.

The second vocation of the scientist was teaching. He constantly paid great attention to it. During his stay in Novosibirsk, together with Yu. I. Zhuravlev, he initiated the All-Siberian Olympiad for schoolchildren, which the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences has held since 1962 to this day. In 1971, he was a professor at Lomonosov Moscow State University. Doctors and Candidates of Sciences, famous scientists, leaders of scientific groups were among his students. He headed the scientific theoretical school.

According to his colleagues, Dmitry Vasilievich was utterly devoted to science, had a rare sense of purpose and commitment, loved his life. He had a talent for friendly communication and a wonderful sense of humour. It was always very interesting to be with him. Dmitry Vasilievich was an Honorary Scientist of the Russian Federation, a Laureate of the Lenin and the State Prizes, a knight of Russian and foreign orders. He was repeatedly elected a Deputy of the Moscow Regional Council of People’s Deputies, headed the JINR water ski school and the Institute’s commission for awarding scholarships to the best teachers of the location city of JINR Dubna. A street in Dubna was named in his honour in 2021.

“We should respond to our own mistakes and difficulties surrounding us with work,” Academician Shirkov concluded his autobiography with these words. “Rapidly changing conditions require vigilance, clear reactions, and hard work. At the same time, they give opportunity for initiative and non-standard solutions. Under these conditions, a need to work for the sake of our future offspring is the source of optimism.”