### Book chapter

## Soliton equations and the Riemann-Schottky problem

Novikov's conjecture on the Riemann-Schottky problem: {\it the Jacobians of smooth algebraic curves are precisely those indecomposable principally polarized abelian varieties (ppavs) whose theta-functions provide solutions to the Kadomtsev-Petviashvili (KP) equation}, was the first evidence of nowadays well-established fact: connections between the algebraic geometry and the modern theory of integrable systems is beneficial for both sides. The purpose of this paper is twofold. Our first goal is to present a proof of the strongest known characterization of a Jacobian variety in this direction: {\it an indecomposable ppav X is the Jacobian of a curve if and only if its Kummer variety K(X) has a trisecant line} and the solution of the characterization problem of principally polarized Prym varieties. The latter problem is almost as old and famous as the Riemann-Schottky problem but is much harder. In some sense the Prym varieties may be geometrically the easiest-to-understand ppavs beyond Jacobians, and studying them may be a first step towards understanding the geometry of more general abelian varieties as well. Our second and primary objective is to take this opportunity to elaborate on motivations underlining the proposed solution of the Riemann-Schottky problem, to introduce a certain circle of ideas and methods, developed in the theory of soliton equations, and to convince the reader that they are algebro-geometric in nature, simple and universal enough to be included in the Handbook of moduli.