Slava Gerovitch
Lecturer in History of Mathematics
Director of Research and Reading Programs
for undergraduates and high school students:
Department of Mathematics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Complete CV

Research interests
- history of mathematics, cybernetics, and computing
- space history and policy
- history of Russian and Soviet science and technology
- history and memory; rhetoric and science

Work in progress
My current project explores how the Soviet mathematics community creatively adapted to various political, institutional, and cultural pressures. It examines the functioning of a “parallel social infrastructure,” which included informal study groups, correspondence and evening courses, specialized mathematical schools, alternative employment opportunities, and a network open research seminars, such the Gelfand seminar.


Informal Social Institutions in Soviet Mathematics

Construction of the Soviet Cosmonaut

Computer Networks in the Soviet Union

Умолчание об авариях часто оправдывали секретностью

 Conferences / Courses

History of Mathematics, Cybernetics, and Computing

Space History and Policy

Cultures of secrecy in Soviet life, Zurich, 25-27 January 2017 (forthcoming)

"Communities of Knowledge from Stalin to Brezhnev: Mentorship and Expertise in the Academy, the Math Schools, and the NKVD" session, ASEEES annual meeting, 16-20 November 2016

Utopies Scientifiques en Union Soviétique, Paris, 22-24 September 2016

Revealing the Cosmonaut symposium at Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age exhibit, Science Museum, London, 5 February 2016

"What It Means to Be a Mathematician" session, HSS annual meeting, Boston, November 2013

"Sites of Innovation under Socialism" session, ASEEES annual meeting, Boston, November 2013

HASTS 25th Anniversary Symposium & blog, MIT, November 2013

Dark Matters: Contents and Discontents of Cold War Science, Barcelona, Spain, May-June 2013

What Have We Learned from the Soviet Archives? Uppsala University, Sweden, May 2013

Annual Conference of Japanese Society for the Study of Russian History, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, October 2012

Mathematical Cultures I, De Morgan House, London, September 2012

PhyMSI (Physics Mathematics Summer Institute), Double Affine Hecke Algebras, Luminy, France,  June 2011

Intellectual History of the Cold War, Hamburg Institute for Social Research, Germany, August-September 2010

Sciences of Communication in the 20th Century, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany, March 2010

XXIII International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Budapest, Hungary, July 2009

Cosmic Enthusiasm: The Cultural Impact of Space Exploration on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe since the 1950s, Basel, Switzerland, January 2009

Thinking and Making Connections: Cybernetic Heritage in the Social and Human Sciences, Nobel Museum and Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden, November 2008

First Plenary Conference of Tensions of Europe, Budapest, Hungary, March 2004


18.S097 Cultural History of Mathematics (2014)

STS.010 Neuroscience and Society

18.995 Cultural History of Mathematics (2009)

STS.003 The Rise of Modern Science

STS.035 History of Computing

STS.005 Disease and Society in America


Creative Discomfort: The Culture of the Gelfand Seminar at Moscow University, in Mathematical Cultures: The London Meetings 2012-2014 (2016), ed. Brendan Larvor

Parallel Worlds: Formal Structures and Informal Mechanisms of Postwar Soviet Mathematics, in General Staff of Science: An International Joint Study on Russian/Soviet Academy of Sciences, ed. Hiroshi Ichikawa (in Japanese)

Mathematical Research in High School: The PRIMES Experience, in Notices of the AMS, 62 (2015) (with Pavel Etingof and Tanya Khovanova)
(summary in Spanish)

How the Computer Got Its Revenge on the Soviet Union, in Nautilus, online issue Dominoes (2015), print issue No. 8 (May/June 2015)

Cyberocrazia o cyburocrazia? Il destino di un’utopia cibernetica nell’Unione Sovietica, in La politica degli esperti. Tecnici e tecnocrati in età contemporanea (Unicopli, 2014)

The Man Who Invented Modern Probability: Chance Encounters in the Life of Andrei Kolmogorov, in Nautilus, online issue The Unlikely (2013), print issue No. 2 (2014)

Parallel Worlds: Formal Structures and Informal Mechanisms of Postwar Soviet Mathematics, in Historia Scientiarum 22 (2013) (summary in Russian)

"Die sowjetische Kybürokratie" in Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte VI/3 (2012) (in German)

Artificial Intelligence With a National Face: American and Soviet Cultural Metaphors for Thought, in The Search for a Theory of Cognition (Rodopi, 2011)

Historical interludes in Pavel Etingof et al., Introduction to Representation Theory (American Mathematical Society, 2011)

"Kyberkratie oder Kyberbürokratie in der Sowjetunion" in Macht und Geist im Kalten Krieg (Hamburger, 2011) (in German)

Интер-Нет! Почему в Советском Союзе не была создана общенациональная компьютерная сеть Неприкосновенный запас 75 (2011)

The Cybernetics Scare and the Origins of the Internet Baltic Worlds 2 (2009)

InterNyet: Why the Soviet Union Did Not Build a Nationwide Computer Network History and Technology 24 (2008)

From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics (MIT Press, 2002)

Die Beherrschung der Welt. Die Kybernetik im Kalten Krieg Osteuropa 59 (2009) (in German)

From Communications Engineering to Communications Science: Cybernetics and Information Theory in the United States, France, and the Soviet Union (with David Mindell and Jérôme Ségal) in Science and Ideology (Routledge, 2003)

Love-Hate for Man-Machine Metaphors in Soviet Physiology: From Pavlov to Physiological Cybernetics Science in Context 15 (2002)

Mathematical Machines of the Cold War: Soviet Computing, American Cybernetics and Ideological Disputes in the Early 1950s Social Studies of Science 31 (2001)

Russian Scandals: Soviet Readings of American Cybernetics in the Early Years of the Cold War The Russian Review 60 (2001)

Automation in Encyclopedia of Computer Science, 4th ed. (Macmillan, 2000)


Soviet Space Mythologies: Public Images, Private Memories, and the Making of a Cultural Identity (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
2016 Historia Nova Prize finalist
Reviews: Russian Review, Quest, Isis, British Journal for the History of Science, Europe-Asia Studies, H/Soz/Kult (in German), Humanités spatiales (in French)

Voices of the Soviet Space Program: Cosmonauts, Soldiers, and Engineers Who Took the USSR into Space (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
Reviews: Slavic Review, Isis, Technology & Culture, Humanités spatiales (in French)

Rise of the Planet Killer
Curse of the Full Moon
Mystery of the Invisible Planet
Mars's Deepest Secret

The Human Inside a Propaganda Machine: The Public Image and Professional Identity of Soviet Cosmonauts" in Into the Cosmos: Space Exploration and Soviet Culture (Pittsburgh, 2011)

"Memories of Space and Spaces of Memory: Remembering Sergei Korolev" in Soviet Space Culture: Cosmic Enthusiasm in Socialist Societies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

Why Are We Telling Lies?: The Creation of Soviet Space History Myths, The Russian Review 70 (2011)

The Future of Human Spaceflight: Objectives and Policy Implications in a Global Context, with David Mindell, Scott Uebelhart, and Asif Siddiqi (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2009)

Creating Memories: Myth, Identity, and Culture in the Russian Space Age in Remembering the Space Age (NASA, 2008)

Stalin's Rocket Designers’ Leap into Space: The Technical Intelligentsia Faces the Thaw Osiris 23 (2008)

New Soviet Man Inside Machine: Human Engineering, Spacecraft Design, and the Construction of Communism Osiris 22 (2007)

Human-Machine Issues in the Soviet Space Program in Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight (NASA, 2006)

The Future of Human Spaceflight, with David Mindell, Scott Uebelhart, Asif Siddiqi et al. (Space, Policy, and Society Research Group, MIT, 2008)

Computing in the Soviet Space Program: Bibliography, Documents, Essays, Institutions, Interviews

The Things We Forgot To Remember: The Other Space Race (BBC radio program, 30 May 2005)