Galina V. Kurlyandchik

How, when, and why have you joined the Programming Department?: 

I was brought to the Programming Department in the beginning of 1972 by my husband Jacob who was a post-graduated student of Andrei P. Ershov by this time.

What was your first impression of Andrei Ershov and other colleagues?: 

I have already written about this in my memorial article about A.P.Ershov for the book "Andrei Ershov – a Scientist and a Person" (Novosibirsk, SB RAS Publishing, 2006). I have written the followings:

"It was the end of February, 1972. There were two desks, shelves on the walls, and five bookcases with books, magazines, and scientific materials in the office of the member of the USSR AS Andrei P. Ershov. I was really impressed by the amount of those books, magazines, and reports in the working office of the head of the Department of Informatics of the Computing Center of the SB USSR AS. I had no idea how an office of a scientist supposed to look like, but this one looked like a library. I knew nothing of Andrei Petrovich except that he was the professor of my husband.

Andrei Petrovich asked me some questions, and I answered them. He liked the most my answer to the question about the foreign language I learned at school and at the university. It was English. According to the today terminology this conversation could be called "the first working interview". When the questions have been over Andrei Petrovich lifted his hands up, scratched the back of his head and asked a question to himself: "What kind of salary should I give you? On the one hand, you have graduated from the university, but, on the other hand, you cannot type…" It was clear to me: I am getting a job!"

I can talk about Andrei Petrovich a lot. I was always impressed by his ability for unbelievably fast reading and great capacity for work. I have understood that he had an outstanding personality since my first working days with him. My first assignment was to read the handwritten and typed copies of his article "Aesthetic and Human Factor in Programming". This article touched upon the deep ethical problems in a new profession.

What can you tell about your work at the PD? In what projects you participated? What research fields did you work on? Who was your first direct supervisor?: 

I think my work in the Programming Department could be called "informational projects support". Since 1972 and until 1995 thanks to my "own" project, I provided support to all projects that were underway at the Programming Department during this period. My project was the A.P.Ersov’s library. My boss, of course, was A.P.Ershov. I described in the memorial article how my project has started:

"One day Andrei Petrovich invited me for a talk. He asked me if I could organize his library. YES! I am a daughter and granddaughter of librarians. I grew up next to books, bookshelves, and catalogue files. It was a fate! And what a credit! Those books, magazines, scientific materials in his office belonged to this well-known library on programming, and were of great interest to computer scientists not only in the USSR (Russia), but to their colleagues in different countries as well. There was only a small box with the file of library users in Ershov’s office, and that was all. I decided to start with magazines’ files. I took some magazine registration forms at the library of the Computing Center, and soon after this the registration files for magazines such as "Cybernetics", "Acta Informatica", "Communication of the ACM" and others were ready".

Who of your colleagues most influenced your professional growth?: 

It was very easy to work with Andrei Petrovich because he immediately assessed the problems and always supported my initiatives in the library work. Many Programming Department staff members helped me, and I learned a lot from them. I do not want to name them in case I forget somebody.

Can you name the PD visitors who you remember the most?: 

Of the Russian visitors of Programming Department, I liked the most Svyatoslav Sergeevich Lavrov. He was very intelligent and had good manners. He was a bright person.
And I remember the best Masahiro Miyakava from Japan. I was impressed by his frankness. He has been living and working in Siberia with us for a whole year, and he brought to us a big interest to the different culture. I think he became a true legend in our Department, and even now some of us cite his sayings. He is a very sweet and warm person.

What, in your opinion, are the most significant scientific and practical results obtained at the Programming Department?: 

Before mentioning the most significant results of Programming Department, I want to say that probably for most people who worked in the Department, collaborated with the Department, visited the Department, or, in short, somehow or other took part in its life, the Programming Department became something more than the place of work. The Programming Department is a symbol of professionalism, from its very first "pioneer" projects in the new science and human activity, a symbol of devotion to its cause, a symbol of human communication at its best. I will not name any specific projects, but rather say that the main result of these 50 years is a huge army of specialists in science, business, education and other areas. Without the Programming Department it is impossible to imagine computer science in Siberia, Russia, and in other countries that employ the scientists and programmers who have received their knowledge, made their first steps, or got their Ph.D. in the Programming Department. Indeed one of the major initiatives of the Programming Department that impacted on education in the country, and as a consequence – on the life of society as a whole, was the idea of learning programming in schools.

Andrei P. Ershov and his several colleagues had devoted a great deal of work on introduction of "second literacy" in life. One can’t imagine all the obstacles, both of objective nature and resultant of open attacks from some "scientists" and other public figures on the idea of computerization of school! I was a witness of the realization of this Andrei P. Ersov’s dream. I helped him in Moscow, where he stayed in Kashirka Oncology Center after the surgery, while the the first textbooks on informatics was being published. Here is a quote from the memorial article:

"It was a wide variety of errands and assignments, but I remember vividly the one. In the summer of 1985 the first textbooks on informatics for high schools appeared in print. This happened despite the enormous obstacles that Andrei Petrovich had to endure to achieve introduction of the new school course.

It was a great victory, and Andrei P., being in a hospital, read the galleys of the first textbook. He could not entrust that responsibility to anyone else. I also met with his co-authors, went to the Ministry of Education and to the Publishing house to take or pick up the galleys, and some papers relating to the publication".

Can you remember the most joyous day at the Department?: 

The happiest day is the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Programming Department. Andrei Petrovich played guitar and sang. I have no longer seen him with the guitar on the other celebrations.

…And the saddest one?: 

The saddest day is the day of death of Gennady Zvenigorodsky. My son came from school and said from the threshold: "Zven died". I could not believe it. Gena was sick for only one week. He has just started to teach my his programming class in the 166-th school a month ago... It was painful.

We all knew we could lose Andrei Petrovich. The loss was irreparable. But the death of Gena was a shock.

What is your current occupation?: 

After working several years in libraries of the USA (Scottsdale, Arizona and Santa Clara, California) I am now "working as a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a daughter" and share my time between California, where my husband woks, and Moscow, where my old parents, my daughter and my young granddaughters live.

With whom of your colleagues at PD are you still connected professionally, or simply on friendly terms?: 

In California, I regularly communicate with Vadim E. Kotov, Lucy Cherkasova, Lucy Chernobrod, Valentina Rubenchik and some other friends and former colleagues of my husband. Natalia Cheremnykh, Sasha Semenov and Faya Dinenberg, Yuri Stepanov, and some other friends visited us in Arizona and California. Mark and Luba Trahtebrot from Israel came to visit the last summer. Once we met with Тatyana Vasyuchkova in San Diego. I am constantly in touch with Victoria Krichevsky, Svetlana Kozhukhina.
In Moscow I see on a regular basis Natalia Cheremnykh, Olga Davydova, Galina and Alexander Narinyani, and Valery Menschikov.
And, of course, I am in touch with Irina Pavlovakaya, so I stay up-to-date with the Ershov’s Library news.

What did you dream of? Did any of the dreams come true?: 

My dream was that we could find in the computer and read all the materials from Ershov’s library. The other day I found on the Internet and reread the article by A,P.Ershov "Aesthetical and human factor in programming". I read the original English text, and then the Russian version. As you can see, my dream came true.

Have you changed your view on programming since or during your days at the PD?: 

With regard to programming, when I was young I looked at this profession as something in between mathematics and engineering. Scientists looked higher rank. Then the profession became elite, and it has evolved with such enormous speed that no science has kept pace. But the introduction of computers in different areas of science and society have made programming on the one hand a mass profession, and on the other hand it divided profession in many majors, and with third parties all who mastered «second literacy» have sat with a computer at the initial stage.
How good that generations of computers are replaced with such speed, so there is always something that one has to learn.

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