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Sample Statement of Purpose for Physics

Statement by MIPT Alumnus (01/2003)
The Physics Student admitted to MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, Stanford

Statement of Objectives                                                                                   Applicant's name: Ivan Ivanov
Department and Degree: Physics, PhD

When I was a tenth-grade high school student, I used to always ask my teachers: "Why do different branches of physics seem so unrelated? They must be similar to each other!", but they didn't appear to be interested in the question. I believed that I was the only person trying to find the answer until I got acquainted with a professor of theoretical physics at XX University. He told me that analogies between different areas of physics do exist and that many scientists are exploring them. I cannot forget my excitement when I talked to him and found that I wasn't alone in my attempts to solve the puzzle. Since then every step in my life brings me closer to the answer.

In 1998 I entered Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT). As a winner of XXIX International Physics Olympiad in Reykjavik, where I received Gold medal and a special prize for the best solution of a theoretical problem, I was admitted without entrance exams. There, in addition to a thorough standard course of study, I have taken a number of elective advanced physics and math courses. One of my hobbies was to solve complicated non-standard problems in physics, calculus and group theory. I also attended advanced lectures on topology and differential geometry at Independent University of Moscow. My hard work paid off: in 2000 I earned the highest score in MIPT's Physics and Mathematics Olympiads among all 2100 undergraduates of MIPT.

At the same time I gained my first research experience: I proved a theorem of high importance in calculus regarding Whitney's extension problem and my results were published in Mathematical Notes, one of the top Russian mathematical journals.

I spent my 3rd year at the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics specializing in particle physics. I actively participated in weekly seminars on gravity and quantum field theory (QFT). I especially enjoyed making presentations on topics such as instantons in modern QFT, entropy of black holes, and conformal field theory.

I was fascinated by beautiful mathematical constructions of QFT and string theory, but I also became interested in deep interconnections between QFT and Condensed Matter physics. In order to get to the bottom of these interconnections, I decided to deepen my knowledge of Condensed Matter theory. Therefore in September 2001 I joined the theory group at the Landau Institute and spent my 4th year there. It was the most interesting year of my studies at MIPT as the requirements at the Landau Institute are extremely high. For instance, in order to pass the exam on Diagrammatic Techniques, I solved about fifty complex problems such as finding quantum correction to the conductivity of two-dimensional system with the help of diagrammatic methods.

Problems involving a combination of both High Energy and Condensed Matter Physics are of special interest to me, for example, quantum Hall effect, superconductivity, and modeling of cosmological phenomena in condensed matter systems. My Bachelor's thesis called "Even denominator Hall states" was in the field of fractional Hall effect. There I described the analogies between Moore-Read Pfaffian state and liquid helium. Currently I am working on a research project under the guidance of Prof. X. We are exploring properties of fermion zero-modes living on vortices in unusual superconductors.

During my years at MIPT I have acquired research experience not only in Condensed Matter, but also in QFT. About a year ago I met a graduate student who was working on asymptotically free theories. Soon we became collaborators. We have developed some aspects of principal chiral field model and are currently  preparing a paper for submission to JETP Letters.

I am convinced that I should continue my education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. First, I would like to get more experience with superconductivity and quantum Hall efect. Research in these areas is very active at Condensed Matter group of MIT. Study of strongly correlated systems by Prof. Lee, Prof. Wen and Prof. Levitov is of particular interest to me. Second, MIT High Energy group is also extremely strong. I believe that communication with such experts would be priceless for my education.

I am confident that graduate study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology would be a great step towards my goal and the experience gained at MIT will allow me someday to get to the core of connections between different branches of Physics.

Ivan Ivanov


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