Victor Isaakovich Ogievetsky

June 6, 1928 – March 23, 1996

 Biography in Russian →

 V.I. Ogievetsky was born on June 6th of 1928 in Dnepropetrovsk, USSR in the family of Professor of Mathematics Isaak E. Ogievetsky and Ida B. Gollender. After graduating from Dnepropetrovsk University, he started his career as a teacher at a local high school. While he attended university he became acquainted with the Academician Igor E. Tamm. This fortuitous connection determined his academic and scientific interests and research path, as well as his destiny, for years to come.
 In 1954 V.I. Ogievetsky received his PhD at the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow. In 1956 he joined the group of Academician Moisei A. Markov at the newly founded Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna near Moscow, where he began his lifelong work at the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics. During the last period of his life, he was the leader of the group "Problems of Supersymmetry".
 From the very beginning of his career in theoretical physics, V.I. Ogievetsky concentrated on the theory of symmetries of elementary particles. His first studies in this direction were devoted to the physics of K-mesons. In the early sixties, in close collaboration with I.V. Polubarinov, V.I. Ogievetsky performed a series of investigations on the field-theoretical treatment of gauge theories and gravity based on viewing the relevant gauge fields as fields with a definite spin in interaction (spin 1 for Yang-Mills quanta, spin 2 for gravitons). This new understanding (spin principle) has proven to play an essential role in furthering the progress of gauge theories. In particular, V.I. Ogievetsky and I.V. Polubarinov were first to interpret and derive Einsteinís gravity as a gauge theory of interacting massless spin 2 field, without resorting to the apparatus of differential geometry. They also derived a wide class of its massive deformations consistent with the spin principle [1].
 In the process of their studies, V.I. Ogievetsky and I.V. Polubarinov made a few discoveries, the significance of which became clear many years later. For instance, in 1965 they introduced the "notoph", an antisymmetric tensor gauge field which describes the helicity 0 and in a sense is complementary to the photon which describes helicities ±1. Later on (after almost 10 years), this object was rediscovered by M. Kalb and P. Ramond in the context of string theory. Now it is a necessary element of many supersymmetric gauge theories and superstring models.
 After receiving the degree of Doctor of Science in 1966 (Habilitation degree), V.I. Ogievetsky focused on the theory of nonlinear realizations and the closely related idea of spontaneous symmetry breaking in application to space-time symmetries. His most striking result in this area was the novel and suggestive understanding of the gravitation theory as a simultaneous nonlinear realization of two spontaneously broken finite-dimensional space-time symmetries, the conformal and affine ones (with A.B. Borisov). Accordingly, the graviton proved to be an analog of the Nambu-Goldstone fields of spontaneously broken internal symmetries. Later on, it was shown that other gauge fields also permit such a twofold interpretation. This profound analogy between the gravitation and gauge theories, on the one hand, and sigma models of spontaneously broken internal symmetries, on the other, proved very fruitful, particularly in topological field theories and string theory.
 The next stage of scientific activity of V.I. Ogievetsky is connected with supersymmetry. One of the first reviews on supersymmetry and superfield techniques was the one due to V.I. Ogievetsky and L. Mezincescu in UFN (1975). To this day, this work remains unchallenged in terms of clarity and comprehensiveness of the subject and still serves as a brilliant introduction to this rapidly developing area.
 It was around this time (the end of the sixties and the seventies) that V.I. Ogievetsky created a tight group of his pupils and followers in Dubna. His main achievement during this period was the geometric superfield formulation of N=1 supergravity (with E.S. Sokatchev). Its cornerstone was the discovery that the fundamental gauge group of supergravity was a group of diffeomorphisms of complex chiral N=1 superspace. This way, deep interrelations of supergravity with the theory of complex manifolds were revealed for the first time.
 Later on, the problem of generalizing N=1 superfield theories to a more complicated case of extended supersymmetry was also successfully solved. It was during the winter of 1984 when the Dubna group headed by V.I. Ogievetsky made a breakthrough and proposed the concept of harmonic superspace. The harmonic superspace method is now commonly recognized as an adequate geometric approach to the theories with extended supersymmetries. In the last few years until his premature death, V.I. Ogievetsky continued to remain faithful to supersymmetry, and to the studies related to further applications and developments of the harmonic superspace approach. Many of his pioneering results in this area still await a deeper understanding and advancements. One of V.I. Ogievetskyís last published works appeared after his death. It is the monograph "Harmonic Superspace" finished by his disciples (A. Galperin, E. Ivanov and E. Sokatchev) and published by the Cambridge University Press in 2001 [2].
 V.I. Ogievetsky was awarded the I.E. Tamm Premium of the USSR Academy of Science in 1986, as well as the Humboldt Prize in Germany in 1992. He was three times the winner of the 1st Prize of JINR awarding for works in theoretical physics. However, it seems that this is merely a small share of what he really deserved for his actual scientific contribution and potential.
 V.I. Ogievetsky left a scientific school, many pupils and colleagues. For them he was not only the Teacher and an example of highly professional and creative attitude to science, but also an example of an absolutely honest and principled personality. His striking nature, unusual amiability, kindness and frankness attracted the attention of his numerous colleagues and friends around the world. It was he who initiated many fruitful long-term contacts of the BLTP with prominent scientists from the West (Julius Wess, Sergio Ferrara, Jon Bagger, Jim Gates, Kelly Stelle, Burt Ovrut, and many others). He was the founder of a series of biennial International Workshops titled "Supersymmetries and Quantum Symmetries", which continue to be organized at the BLTP to this day and attract eminent researchers from many countries.


[1] A discussion of these early fundamental results in the context of the current high interest in massive gravity was recently given in S. Mikohyama, M.S. Volkov, "The Ogievetsky-Polubarinov massive gravity and the benign Boulware-Deser mode", JCAP 1810 (2018) 037, arXiv:1808.04292 [hep-th].


[2] A more detailed exposition of the role of V.I. Ogievetsky and his school in developing researches in gauge theories and supersymmetry at the BLTP is disposed in the review by E.A. Ivanov, "Gauge Fields, Nonlinear Realizations, Supersymmetry", Phys. Part. Nucl. 47 (2016) 508-539, arXiv:1604.01379 [hep-th].