Media Appearances




Slava Gerovitch

Lecturer in History of Mathematics

Department of Mathematics



Work in Progress

My current project, based on more than 80 oral interviews with mathematicians, explores social history of Soviet mathematics in the 1960s-80s. It examines the creation of a "parallel social infrastructure," which included informal study groups, correspondence and evening courses, specialized mathematical schools, alternative employment opportunities, and open research seminars, such as the Gelfand seminar at Moscow University.


  • 1985
    M.S. in Applied Mathematics
    School of Automation and Computer Technology, Gubkin Institute of Oil and Gas Industry, Moscow



Honors and Fellowships


  • 2010 The Culture of Abstract Algebra: Conceptual Languages and Working Styles in Representation Theory in the Second Half of the 20th Century (NSF)
  • 2010 Oral History of the Soviet Space Program: An Annotated Edition," (NASA)
  • 2009 Voices from the Russian Space Program (NASA)
  • 2006 Designing a Cosmonaut: The Technopolitics of Automation in the Soviet Human Space Program” (NSF)
  • 2003 “Trusting the Machine: Onboard Computing, Automation, and Human Control in the Soviet Space Program” (NSF)
  • 2000 Short-term travel grant from the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX)

Professional Activities



Book Chapters

  • Cybernetics Across Cultures: The Localization of the Universal, in Cybernetics for the 21st Century, vol. 1: Epistemological Reconstruction, edited by Yuk Hui (Hanart Press, 2024), pp. 127-152. (PDF)
  • The CrowdMath Project” (with Pavel Etingof and Jesse Geneson), in Expanding Undergraduate Research in Mathematics: Making UR More Inclusive, edited by Michael Dorff, Jan Rychtář, and Dewey Taylor (Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America, 2023), pp. 153-160. (PDF)
  • “Creative Discomfort: The Culture of the Gelfand Seminar at Moscow University,” in Mathematical Cultures: The London Meetings 2012-2014, edited by Brendan Larvor (Basel: Birkhäuser, 2016), pp. 51-70. (PDF)
  • “Cyberocrazia o cyburocrazia? Il destino di un’utopia cibernetica nell’Unione Sovietica,” in Elisa Grandi and Deborah Paci, eds., La politica degli esperti. Tecnici e tecnocrati in età contemporanea (Milano: Edizioni Unicopli, 2014). (PDF)
  • “Artificial Intelligence With a National Face: American and Soviet Cultural Metaphors for Thought,” in The Search for a Theory of Cognition. Early Mechanisms and New Ideas, edited by Stefano Franchi and Francesco Bianchini (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011), pp. 173-194. (PDF)
  • Historical interludes in Pavel Etingof et al., Introduction to Representation Theory (Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society, 2011). (PDF) (Russian and Japanese editions)
  • “The Human inside a Propaganda Machine: The Public Image and Professional Identity of Soviet Cosmonauts,” in Into the Cosmos: Soviet Culture and Space Exploration, edited by James T. Andrews and Asif A. Siddiqi (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), pp. 77-106.
  • “Memories of Space and Spaces of Memory: Remembering Sergei Korolev,” in Soviet Space Culture: Cosmic Enthusiasm in Socialist Societies, edited by Monica Rüthers, Carmen Scheide, Julia Richers, and Eva Maurer (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 85-102.
  • “Kyberkratie oder Kyberbürokratie in der Sowjetunion” (“Cyberocracy or Cybureaucracy in the Soviet Union”), in Macht und Geist im Kalten Krieg, edited by von Bernd Greiner, Tim B. Müller und Claudia Weber (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2011), pp. 376-395. (PDF)
  • The Future of Human Spaceflight: Objectives and Policy Implications in a Global Context (with David Mindell, Scott Uebelhart, and Asif Siddiqi) (Cambridge, Mass.: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2009).

  • “Creating Memories: Myth, Identity, and Culture in the Russian Space Age,” in Remembering the Space Age, edited by Steven J. Dick (Washington, D.C.: NASA History Division, 2008), pp. 203-236. (PDF)
  • "Roman Jakobson und die Kybernetisierung der Linguistik in der Sowjetunion," in Die Transformation des Humanen: Beitrage zur Kulturgeschichte der Kybernetik, hg. v. Horl, Erich / Hagner, Michael (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2008), S. 229-274 (in German).
  • "Human-Machine Issues in the Soviet Space Program" in Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight, edited by Steven J. Dick and Roger D. Launius (Washington, D.C.: NASA History Division, 2006), pp. 107-140. (PDF)>
  • “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: A Comparative History, ed. Mark Walker (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 66-96. (PDF)
  • “Striving for ‘Optimal Control’: Soviet Cybernetics as a ‘Science of Government,’” in Cultures of Control, ed. Miriam R. Levin (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 2000), pp. 247-64.
  • “Writing History in the Present Tense: Cold War-Era Discursive Strategies of Soviet Historians of Science and Technology,” in Universities and Empire: Money and Politics in the Social Sciences During the Cold War, ed. Christopher Simpson (New York: The New Press, 1998), pp. 189-228. (PDF)

Articles in Journals

  • "'We Teach Them to Be Free': Specialized Math Schools and the Cultivation of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia," Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History vol. 20, no. 4 (Fall 2019): 717–54. (PDF)
  • "Mathematical Research in High School: The PRIMES Experience"" (with Pavel Etingof and Tanya Khovanova), in Notices of the AMS, 62 (2015): 910-918. (PDF) (Chinese translation in Mathematical Advances in Translation 35:4 (2016): 348-359; summary in Spanish)
  • How the Computer Got Its Revenge on the Soviet Union, Nautilus, issue 23: Dominoes (April 9, 2015), print issue No. 8 (May/June 2015) (Chinese translation)

  • The Man Who Invented Modern Probability: Chance Encounters in the Life of Andrei Kolmogorov, Nautilus, issue 4: The Unlikely (August 22, 2013), print issue No. 2 (2014), (Chinese and Vietnamese translations)

  • “Parallel Worlds: Formal Structures and Informal Mechanisms of Postwar Soviet Mathematics,” Historia Scientiarum, vol. 22, no. 3 (March 2013): 181-200. (PDF) (Japanese translation in General Staff of Science: An International Joint Study on Russian/Soviet Academy of Sciences, ed. Hiroshi Ichikawa; summary in Russian)
  • “Die sowjetische Kybürokratie,” Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte, Heft VI/3 (Herbst 2012): 19-25 (in German). (PDF)
  • “‘Why Are We Telling Lies?’: The Creation of Soviet Space History Myths,” The Russian Review, vol. 70, no. 3 (July 2011): 460-484. (PDF)
  • “The Cybernetics Scare and the Origins of the Internet,” Baltic Worlds, vol. 2, no. 1 (2009): 32-38. (PDF)
  • “Die Beherrschung der Welt. Die Kybernetik im Kalten Krieg,” Osteuropa 59, no. 10 (2009): 43-56 (in German). (PDF)
  • “Stalin’s Rocket Designers’ Leap into Space: The Technical Intelligentsia Faces the Thaw,” OSIRIS, vol. 23: Intelligentsia and Science in Russia and Abroad, edited by Michael Gordin, Karl Hall, and Alexei Kojevnikov (2008): 189-209. (PDF)
  • “InterNyet: Why the Soviet Union Did Not Build a Nationwide Computer Network,” History and Technology 24:4 (December 2008): 335-350. (PDF) Russian version in Neprikosnovennyi zapas 75 (2011); Spanish version in (2019)
  • “‘New Soviet Man’ Inside Machine: Human Engineering, Spacecraft Design, and the Construction of Communism,” OSIRIS, vol. 22: The Self as Project: Politics and the Human Sciences in the Twentieth Century, edited by Greg Eghigian, Andreas Killen, and Christine Leuenberger (2007): 135-157. (PDF)
  • “Love-Hate for Man-Machine Metaphors in Soviet Physiology: From Pavlov to 'Physiological Cybernetics,'” Science in Context, vol. 15, no. 2 (2002): 339-374 (PDF) (Russian version in Voprosy istorii estestvoznaniia i tekhniki, no. 3 (2002): 472-506.)
  • “‘Russian Scandals’: Soviet Readings of American Cybernetics in the Early Years of the Cold War,” The Russian Review, vol. 60, no. 4 (October 2001): 545-68. (PDF)
  • “‘Mathematical Machines’ of the Cold War: Soviet Computing, American Cybernetics and Ideological Disputes in the Early 1950s,” Social Studies of Science, vol. 31, no. 2 (April 2001).253-87. (PDF)
  • “Perestroika of the History of Technology and Science in the USSR: Changes in the Discourse,” Technology and Culture, vol. 37, no. 1 (January 1996): 102-34. (PDF)
  • “Epilogue: Russian Reflections” (with Anton Struchkov), Journal of the History of Biology, vol. 25, no. 3 (Fall 1992): 487-95. (PDF)

Encyclopedia Entries

  • “Cybernetics in the Soviet Union,” in Supplement to the Modern Encyclopedia of Russian, Soviet, and Eurasian History, vol. 7 (Gulf Breeze, Fl.: Academic International Press, 2006), pp. 159-164.
  • “Automation,” in Encyclopedia of Computer Science, 4th edition (Macmillan Reference/Grove Dictionaries, 2000), pp. 122-26 [reprinted in Concise Encyclopedia of Computer Science (Wiley, 2004), pp. 53-56]. (PDF)


  • Лорен Р. Грэхэм, Очерки истории российской и советской науки (Москва: Янус-К, 1998) (Russian translation of Loren R. Graham, Science in Russia and the Soviet Union (Cambridge University Press, 1993)). (PDF)
  • Питер Галисон, Зона обмена: координация убеждений и действий // Вопросы истории естествознания и техники, no. 1 (2004): 64-91 (Russian translation of Peter Galison, “Trading Zone: Coordinating Action and Belief”) (HTML) (PDF)
  • English translation of Yuri Gagarin et al., “The Soviet Union Must Not Lag Behind the United States in Space” (1965), in Living Through the Space Race, edited by William S. McConnell (Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2006), pp. 42-48; reprinted as “Socialism is the Best Launching Pad for Space Flights: Soviet Cosmonauts to Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev” (22 October 1965), in Letters of Note: Space, comp. Shaun Usher (Edinburgh, UK: Canongate, 2021), pp. 34-42.
  • English translation of Yuri Gagarin to his family, “If You Are to Be, Be the First” (10 April 1961), in Letters of Note: Space, comp. Shaun Usher (Edinburgh, UK: Canongate, 2021), pp. 30-33.

Book Reviews

  • Review of Yvonne Howell and Nikolai Krementsov, eds., The Art and Science of Making the New Man in Early Twentieth-Century Russia, in Isis, vol. 114, no. 4 (2023): 885-886. (PDF)
  • Review of Maria A. Rogacheva, Soviet Scientists Remember: Oral Histories of the Cold War Generation, in The Russian Review, vol. 79, no. 3 (2020): 511-513. (PDF)
  • Review of Michael J. Neufeld, ed., Spacefarers: Images of Astronauts and Cosmonauts in the Heroic Era of Spaceflight, in Journal for the History of Astronomy, vol. 48, no. 3 (2017): 362-364. (PDF)
  • Review of Sergei S. Demidov and Boris V. Lëvshin, eds., The Case of Academician Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin, tran. by Roger Cooke, in Isis, vol. 108, no. 2 (2017): 479-480. (PDF)
  • Review of Benjamin Peters, How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet, in Russian Review, vol. 76, no. 2 (2017): 388–389. (PDF)
  • Foreword to Picturing the Cosmos: A Visual History of Early Soviet Space Endeavor, edited by Lina Kohonen (Intellect, 2017). (PDF)
  • Review of Amir Alexander, Infinitesimal: How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World, in Notices of the American Mathematical Society 63, no. 5 (2016): 571-574. (PDF)
  • Review of Michael G. Smith, Rockets and Revolution: A Cultural History of Early Spaceflight, in CritCom, March 19, 2015 (PDF)
  • Review of Matthew H. Hersch, Inventing the American Astronaut, in Technology and Culture 54, no. 3 (2013): 687-689. (PDF)
  • Review of James T. Andrews, Red Cosmos: K. E. Tsiolkovskii, Grandfather of Soviet Rocketry, in Technology and Culture 52, no. 1 (2011): 408-411. (PDF)
  • Review of Asif A. Siddiqi, The Red Rocket's Glare: Space Flight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957, in Isis, vol. 106, no. 1 (2011): 193–194. (PDF)
  • Review of Loren Graham and Irina Dezhina, Science in the New Russia: Crisis, Aid, Reform, in Russian Review, vol. 68, no. 4 (2009): 729-730. (PDF)
  • Review of Ethan Pollock, Stalin and the Soviet Science Wars, in Russian Review, vol. 66, no. 3 (2007): 501–545. (PDF)
  • Review of Deborah Cadbury, Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space, in The Moscow Times Arts & Ideas Supplement: Context (5-11 May 2006): 4.
  • Review of Steven Usdin, Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley, in The Times Higher Education Supplement, no. 1 (3 February 2006): 30. (PDF)
  • Review of Alexander Vucinich, Einstein and Soviet Ideology, in Isis, vol. 95, no. 4 (2004): 739-740. (PDF)
  • Review of David Mindell, Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing Before Cybernetics, in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 26, no. 1 (January-March 2004): 71-73. (PDF)
  • Review of Eduard Kolchinsky, ed., Essays on the Lives and Works of the presidents of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg, 1725-1917 (English title), in Isis, vol. 94, no. 1 (2003): 125-26. (PDF)
  • Review of James Harford, Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon, in Isis, vol. 89, no. 2 (1998): 365-66. (PDF)


  • “Speaking Cybernetically: The Soviet Remaking of an American Science.” Ph.D. dissertation. Program in Science, Technology and Society, MIT, 1999.
  • “The Dynamics of Research Programs in the Artificial Intelligence Field.” Ph.D. dissertation. Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Moscow, 1991. (PDF)

Publications in Russian

  • Социальные механизмы развития математического знания: Экспертиза, мода, перевод / После постпозитивизма, научн. ред. и сост. И.Т. Касавин, И.Д. Невважай, Л.В. Шиповалова, Д.С. Артамонов. М.: РОИФН, 2022, с. 585-588. (PDF)
  • Герович Вячеслав Александрович / Путь в профессию: Институт истории естествознания и техники в воспоминаниях сотрудников, отв. ред. Р.А. Фандо, сост. и ред. С.С. Илизаров. М: Янус-К, 2022, с. 670-674. (PDF)
  • Кухня и дача: пространства для «математического» образа жизни в СССР / История науки и техники. Музейное дело. Законы природы и нормы общества: Взаимосвязь и взаимовлияние в прошлом и настоящем. Материалы XV Международной научно-практической конференции. Выпуск 14. Сост. Т.А. Глушкова, А.А. Котомина. М.: Политехнический музей, 2022, с. 344-350. (PDF)
  • «Математический рай»: параллельная социальная инфраструктура послевоенной советской математики // Логос. № 2 (112), 2020. С. 93-128 (in Russian). (PDF)
  • Исторические интерлюдии в кн.: Павел Этингоф и др., Введение в теорию представлений (М.: МЦНМО, 2019)
  • Интер-Нет! Почему в Советском Союзе не была создана общенациональная компьютерная сеть // Неприкосновенный запас. № 75, 2011, стр. 21-42. (HTML)
  • (с А.Б. Кожевниковым) Международная конференция по истории российской науки и техники "Интеллигенция: российская и советская наука на мировой арене, 1860 - 1960" // Вопросы истории естествознания и техники. № 4, 2005, стр. 202-205. (PDF)
  • Человеко-машинные метафоры в советской физиологии // Вопросы истории естествознания и техники. № 3, 2002, стр. 472-506. (PDF)
  • Проблема самоорганизации в исследованиях по кибернетике и искусственному интеллекту (The Problem of Self-Organization in Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence Research) // Концепции самоорганизации в исторической перспективе / Ред. А.А. Печенкин. Москва: Наука, 1994, стр. 125-145. (PDF)
  • Подробнее о классической и неклассической кибернетических концепциях самоорганизации. Концепции самоорганизации в исследованиях по искусственному интеллекту (On the Classical and Non-Classical Conceptions of Self-Organization in Cybernetics. Conceptions of Self-Organization in Artificial Intelligence Research) // Концепции самоорганизации: Становление нового образа научного мышления / Ред. А.А. Печенкин. Москва: Наука, 1994, стр. 62-82. (PDF)
  • Кибернетика, синергетика, искусственный интеллект: модели самоорганизации (Cybernetics, Synergetics, Artificial Intelligence: Models of Self-Organization)// Метафизика и идеология в истории естествознания / Ред. А.А. Печенкин. Москва: Наука, 1994, стр. 115-127. (PDF)
  • Динамика исследовательских программ в области искусственного интеллекта. Автореферат дисс. на соиск. степени канд. филос. наук. Институт философии АН СССР, 1991. (PDF)
  •  Динамика исследовательских программ в области искусственного интеллекта. Дисс. на соиск. степени канд. филос. наук. Институт истории естествознания и техники АН СССР, 1991. (PDF)
  • Развитие элементаристских представлений в истории искусственного интеллекта // Классическое естествознание и современная наука. Новосибирск, 1991, стр. 51-59.
  • Критический анализ теории рефлексии В.А. Лефевра // Материалы ХХХIII Всесоюзной научной конференции аспирантов и молодых специалистов по истории естествознания и техники, февраль 1991 г. Часть 2. Москва: ИИЕТ РАН, 1991, стр. 153-154. (PDF)
  • Область искусственного интеллекта: науковедческий анализ // Синтез знаний: новый этап. IV Чтения памяти академика Б.М. Кедрова. Тезисы Всесоюзной научной конференции, сентябрь 1990 г. Одесса, 1990. (PDF)
  • Проблема самоорганизации в кибернетике и искусственном интеллекте. Препринт No. 32 (1990). Москва: ИИЕТ РАН, 1990. (PDF)
  • Развитие идеи самоорганизации в кибернетике и искусственном интеллекте // Материалы ХХХII Всесоюзной научной конференции аспирантов и молодых специалистов по истории естествознания и техники, октябрь-ноябрь 1989 г. Часть 2. Москва: ИИЕТ РАН, 1990, стр. 266-269. (PDF)

  • Влияние идей философии науки на современные исследования по искусственному интеллекту // Формы представления знаний и творческое мышление. Тезисы докладов и сообщений к Всесоюзному семинару 3-5 октября 1989 года. Часть II. Новосибирск, 1989, стр. 165-167. (PDF)
  • Человеческое понимание как объект фундаментальных исследований // Методологические проблемы взаимосвязи фундаментальных исследований и разработки интенсивных технологий. Москва-Обнинск, 1987, стр. 232-235.
  • Компьютеризация гуманитарных наук и проблема понимания: методологические вопросы // Современная математика: методологические и мировоззренческие проблемы. Часть 1. Москва-Обнинск, 1986, стр. 155-157.


Media Appearances

Contact Information

e-mail: slava at mit dot edu
Room 2-231C
Department of Mathematics
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139


© 1997-2023 Slava Gerovitch