Slava Gerovitch
Lecturer in History of Mathematics
Director of PRIMES (Program for Research in Mathematics, Engineering and Science for 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, 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.

Conferences / Courses
History of Mathematics, Cybernetics, and Computing
Space History and Policy

The Sputnik Factor. Scientific and Technological Global Competition, Collaboration and Circulation of Knowledge in the post-Sputnik years, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, 19 May 2023

“Minority science” in the short 20th century: Imagining science from the margins of academia, Masaryk Institute and Archive of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic, Prague, 1 April 2023

“Future Unknown” International Education Forum, China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China (virtual), 1 April 2023

Art, Technology and Philosophy Symposium (II) Cybernetics for the 21st Century, Media Lab of Guangdong Times Museum, China (virtual), 4 November 2022

История науки и техники. Музейное дело, Москва (virtual), 9 декабря 2021

26th International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Prague (virtual), 27 July 2021

The Production of Knowledge in the USSR, Chicago, 10-11 June 2019

Transnational Perspectives on Soviet Cutting-Edge Technology, Bern, 31 Jan – 1 Feb 2019

Enabling Mathematical Cultures, Oxford, 5-7 December 2017

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

"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 andSödertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden, November 2008

Intelligentsia: Russian and Soviet science on the world stage, 1860-1960, Athens, Georgia, October 2004

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

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

Cybernetics Across Cultures: The Localization of the Universal, in Cybernetics for the 21st Century, vol. 1, ed. Yuk Hui (2024)

From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics (Japanese edition) (University of Nagoya Press, 2023)

«Математический рай»: параллельная социальная инфраструктура послевоенной советской математики // Логос. № 2 (112) (2020) (in Russian)

"We Teach Them to Be Free": Specialized Math Schools and the Cultivation of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia, Kritika (2019)

Исторические интерлюдии в кн.: Павел Этингоф и др., Введение в теорию представлений (МЦНМО, 2019)

InterNyet: ¿Por qué la Unión Soviética no construyó una red informática nacional?, in (2019)

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) (Chinese translation)

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), (Vietnamese translation)

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) (Japanese translation, Maruzen Publishing, 2023)

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)

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)
2021 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award winner
2016 Historia Nova Prize finalist
see images and reviews

Voices of the Soviet Space Program: Cosmonauts, Soldiers, and Engineers Who Took the USSR into Space (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)
see images, reviews, and supplemental materials

Память о космической эре, Неприкосновенный запас (2023)

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

Pluto's Evil Twin

"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)