Gilberto Francisco Loibel's Interview
In 2012, Professor Loibel turned eighty, and on the 12-13 June 2012 a Topology and Singularities Meeting was held in his honour. Taking advantage of the opportunity, he was interviewed on the 27 April 2012. An English translation is given below:
- How was the Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences (ICMC) transition process from a department of the São Carlos School of Engineering (EESC) to an autonomous institute?
A: At that time we were suffocated inside the EESC, obviously because the important thing was engineering. Mathematics and numerical analysis were in the background, they were suffocated inside. The issue was not only related to funding for staff and laboratories, but also for the library. So, the creation of the Institute was very important for further development, when we started to get financial support from the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development).
- Was there resistance? What were the difficulties?
A: Not enough to be serious. There was much more resistance on the part of the Poli (Polytechnic School) to the creation of the EESC (São Carlos School of Engineering).
- The ICMC library is one of the largest in the country in the areas of Mathematics and Computer Science. How was the process of designing and forming the collection at the beginning of the library? Which collections do you consider most important?
A: Professor Achille Bassi put as one of the conditions of accepting the position that a budget was destined to the formation of a good library. At that time, the requirements were more focused on the salary of a full-time professor. Early on in his work, he began to buy journals and books. The price of this material in Europe was low, as the continent was experiencing the post-war period. There were plenty of books and no money. As for the important collections, it would be difficult to cite just one journal or book, as part of the collection has historical importance, with many books from the 18th and 19th century. Anyway, among the main ones I cite the journals that review the published works in mathematics.
- The Institute was formed at a time marked by university reform. What were the changes in the chair system?
A: There were good and bad things about the chair system which, in a simplistic analogy, could be compared to the style of the Middle Ages. The professor could be authoritarian, but he had the obligation to guide the student. When I joined here, I had classes with Professor Bassi. The young man who started to work had an orientation about the didactic work. In the past, we attended bachelor's and licentiate degrees, which meant an opportunity for a good didactic training, although not as specialised as that of a doctor. Shortly a year after graduation, I corrected the tests and he (Bassi) corrected them. Currently, only doctors are hired.
- Where did the first teachers come from and what was their hiring regime like?
A: Professor Bassi arrived in Brazil before the war, he even had problems because he was Italian. Professor Cecconi and Ubaldo Richard were invited by him to come to the country. The other teachers, called teaching assistants, were engineers graduated from the Polytechnic School. With the exception of Rubens Lintz, they all worked part-time, did the didactic part and did not dedicate themselves to research.
- How did your experiences abroad contribute to your training as a researcher and to your research at ICMC?
A: At Berkeley I learned the foundations of the Theory of Singularities, which gave rise to the current research group. Professor Maria Aparecida Soares Ruas was my advisee.
- Does the current level of internationalisation of ICMC research groups have historical roots?
A: Yes. The first areas of research that were developed here were Topology, which shortly afterwards also included Singularities, then Differential Equations, led by Professor Nelson Onuchic, and Numerical Analysis, led by Professor Odelar Leite Linhares, also former professors at the ICMC. The exchange with researchers from other international centres began with these pioneering professors, and grew as the research groups were organically formed. By the way, a university is a living organism.
- How do you see the current role of the ICMC in the training of human resources in mathematics in Brazil?
A: Without a doubt, it is one of the most important institutions in the country. There was a time when there was a classification, and at that time we were in third place, behind the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IMPA) and the Military Institute of Engineering (IME). We were therefore regarded as one of the most important. Subsequently, other institutions such as the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and the University of Brasilía (UNB) were founded. The growth of science in Brazil was explosive and there are now many other institutions outside the state of São Paulo. In 1957, when the first classification was made, São Carlos was the first city outside the Rio-São Paulo axis, and this proves the importance of São Carlos.
Last Updated November 2022