Heinz Zemanek

Andrei Ershov and IFIP

Andrei Ershov was well known and highly estimated in the international community of information processing. I shall speak in particular of IFIP, where I know most, but Andrei's activities were by no means restricted to IFIP. I have often heard him mentioned by American colleagues with high respect and I shall mention a few non-IFIP occasions where we met.

From its creation in 1962, Andrei has been the representative of the Academy of Sciences USSR in the IFIP Technical Committee N° 2 on Programming (later on Programming Languages) and he was, also from the very beginning, a member of the IFIP Working Group 2.1 on ALGOL where he contributed to both the later work on ALGOL 60 and the early work on ALGOL 68.

Andrei also served in the IFIP Congresses. He was a member of the Prog­ramme Committee for Congress 68 and he was vice-chairman of the Program­me Committee for Congress 80. At the Congress 68, he gave a panel position paper on Time Sharing; at the second IFIP Working Conference in Pisa, he presented, with A.F. Rar, SYGMA, a Symbolic Generator and Macroassemb­ler; in 1970 in Munich his name appears with two papers on ALGOL 68 im­plementation; and of course he contributed to the 1977 Working Conference on Constructing Quality Software in Novosibirsk. The list certainly is not. exhaustive. His advice was often requested and sometimes even followed. He cared for the participation of USSR in IFIP activities and he often assu­red that a member of crew gave a paper at IFIP events — and could also go to the event: we know how difficult this can be.

The Los Alamos Conference 1976 on the history of computing was the begin of a national and international interest in this subject; Andrei presen­ted a paper (together with M.R. Shura-Bura) on the early development of programming in the USSR which is a key access for all computing histori­ans. I further remember vividly his arrival to the 5th International Confe­rence on Software Engineering 1980 in San Diego, USA, where he had also been a member of the programme committee.

From an international point of view, one of the most impressive events was the Urgench Symposium in 1979; in cooperation with Don Knuth and on behalf of the Academy of Sciences USSR Andrei organized a symposium on "AIgorithms in Modern Mathematics and Computer Science" with very prominent participants like Stephen Kleene, Fritz Bauer, Hans Kaufmann and Aad van Wijngaarden. It was a key event in algorithmic theory and it triggered the celebrations of al-Khorezmi's 1200 birthday in 1983, also in Khorezm.

The meeting place, only some 25 kms from the Central Asian architectu­ral jewel Khiva, was unique in the history of information processing events, and no participant will ever forget the impressions of a very special oblast of USSR and the feeling for history which the places convey.

Unfortunately, I could not make one of the meetings in Novosibirsk — I forgot the year and the context — I remember, however, that I made the remark to Professor van Wijngaarden "But Novosibirsk in January might be a cold adventure!" to which van Wijngaarden answered "If Novosibirsk, then in deep winter", and I immediately changed my mind: he was perfectly right.

It took years until I could make my visit to Novosibirsk. In October 1983, IBM had an exhibition there and I was invited to give a talk. Of course I choose my main subject of the period. Abstract Architecture, but I gave also a second talk, on the history of the calendar. I could feel the dense atmosphe­re of vivid science and keen interest, an atmosphere to which Andrei obvious­ly had contributed an intrinsic part.

It is hard to conceive that we have lost Andrei — how much more must Novosibirsk miss him!

Zemanek Heinz. Prof.

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