Dines Bjørner

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

In 1977/78 I read a 1977 IFIP TC2 Work Conference paper by Andrei Petrovich on Mixed Computation. To better understand it I rewrote it, from Algol 68 into the VDM specification language. In that way I came across some questions which I communicated, together with the rewrite, to AP. On my way home from an IFIP WG2.2 meeting in Kyoto, Japan, I flew by way of Khabarovsk and Irkutsk to Novosibirsk and visit the PD for a short week: 5 days early Sept. 1978.

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

I got a fine impression of Andrei Ershov - a man for all seasons - we had fine walks, also with Igor Pottosin, in the woods, Golden Valley, Pokrovsky translated my seminars, and my 4-5 days at Hotel Ob were quite eventful.

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?: 

Other than my first attempt at mixed computation I did not share research with the Akademgorodok group.

Who of your colleagues most influenced your professional growth?: 

Not applicable.

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

Over the years I visited Akademgorodok several time, 2-3 in the 1980s and 2-3 in the 1990s.
I also met PD colleagues abroad: Vadim Kotov on several occasions - as member of IFIP Congress PC, and later in California; Igor Pottosin in Bulgaria and - last time - in 2000 at an event honoring Sir Tony Hoare. I was very fond of Igor. In Bulgaria he gave me a sack of pine cones from the Golden Valley (think of it: He knew I would be in Bulgaria and he knew I like the pine nuts). But most endearing were the encounters with Andrei Petrovish. At a TC2/WG2.1 event in Bad Toelz near Munich, in Germany - Andrei was accompanied, it was in April 1986, by Sabelfeld - he charged us with organizing a Partial Evaluation and Mixed Computation TC2 Conf. It was held in Denmark in Oct.1987, 80+ participants, 7 from former Soviet Union, delegation lead, of course, by Andrei. Last time I saw Andrei was in June 1988. My wife and I had been in Moscow, but Andrei was temporarily backed in Akademgorodok from his sanatorium near Moscow. He then telephoned us from Moscow: He would take the night train to Leningrad. We would meet him at the train station. We spent all day together. He had an academy car and driver. Under his guidance we visited several castles outside Leningrad, the Peter & Paul bastion, churches, etc. in Leningrad. In-between he would take rests in our suite in the Europaeiskaya Hotel. In the evening, after perhaps the grandest day of all in Russia, of my more than 20 trips, we followed him back to his return train to Moscow. Only to say goodbye for the last time.

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

There are very many. There are the early contributions to language design, language analysis, to mixed computation and many more.

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

Yes, when I told, in 1978, a naughty story, in English, about telephone calls in the late night, always at 11:45pm, to my Hotel Ob room - and the hotel manager coming to my room because my Danish guests, met in the restaurant, and now up in my room for a "night cap" (i.e. a whiskey) had answered the "lady" calling. Pokrovsky didn’t quite translate it all, but everyone laughed. That night no one called!

…And the saddest one?: 

- was not in the institute, but in Dec.1988, at a (Logic) conference in Tallinn when colleagues from Akademgorodok told me of Andrei's passing away. Later I was likewise much saddened on hearing of Igor Pottosin's passing away. A unique pair of great humans and great scientists - both embodies the best of that fine Russian culture.

What is your current occupation?: 

Retired, emeritus

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

None, sorry.

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

I grew up in a very happy family and although those were war years, we had a good, shielded life. My parents loved their work, and so do I. I was fortunate to spend early years of my career with great scientists at the IBM (research and development) laboratories: Gene Amdahl, E.F. ("Ted") Codd, John W. Backus, and at the IBM Lab. Vienna, in Austria. I took my cue from my years in Vienna and that became my "brand": formal specification of software et cetera. I never dreamt "career" dreams. Only people who seek power appear to do so - and such people should not be given power. Instead of undreamt dreams coming true (through) I had the great fortune of first being able to form and lead a Danish research center, DDC: Dansk Datamatik Center, 1979-1989 and then the UN University's International Institute for Software Technology, UNU-IIST in Macau, near Hong Kong (1991-1997).

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

No, sorry.

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