Blue & Yellow
Blue & Yellow: Vladimir Mikhalevich helped the world understand and enhance complex systems
July 22, 2022

Introduction: Blue & Yellow is a series of short stories about Ukrainians who’ve advanced technology, art, and science to new heights. Check out our other articles in this series.

In our latest edition of Blue & Yellow, we’d like to share more on Vladimir Mikhalevich, an economic cybernetics scientist, an academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and a professor and doctor of physical and mathematical sciences.

From 1982 to 1994 he headed the Glushkov Institute of Cybernetics as director. Many eminent specialists in the field of computer science, mathematics, economics, and operations research owe their creative achievements to the influence of this outstanding scientist.

For background, cybernetics is a wide-ranging scientific field that examines the automatic control and communication functions of both living organisms and machines. For example, cybernetic principles are studied and used in such systems as automatic pilot controls, thermostats, computers, and even the human brain.

Economic cybernetics — of which Vladimir Mikhalevich is a forefather — is a scientific field wherein cybernetic approaches are applied to economics.

A native of the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, Mikhalevich graduated from the most prestigious university in the country: the Shevchenko University, at the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics.

Later on, Mikhalevich continued his postgraduate studies at Moscow State University. Mikhalevich’s first teacher was the outstanding mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov, under whose leadership the young scientist carried out his first serious scientific research.

After Kolmogorov’s tutelage, Mikhalevich returned to Kyiv University and took the position of senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Analysis and Probability Theory.

In 1959, Mikhalevich worked at the Computing Center of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. In 1962, when the Institute of Cybernetics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was created, he became an employee and defended his doctoral dissertation.

Mikhalevich worked with algorithms for the numerical solution of complex problems of technical and economic planning. He drew attention from his studies on the expediency of using the theory of sequential statistical solutions. As a result, many computers and computational models used his algorithms and schemes for sequential analysis of variants.

Mikhalevich reported on the results at the IV All-Union Mathematical Congress in 1961, and his method of sequential analysis of variants gained universal recognition as the “Kyiv broom.”

Mikhalevich’s algorithm remains one of the main tools in solving problems of optimal design for road, electric, and gas networks, helping them become more reliable and efficient. 

The idea of ​​the “Kyiv broom” method became the impetus for a number of other algorithmic schemes and methods for solving complex optimization problems. In particular, this includes the most complex discrete optimization problems and stochastic programming problems.

As a scientist, Mikhailevich specialized in problems of mathematical statistics and the theory of optimal solutions, numerical methods of optimization and system analysis.

Mikhalevich also created and developed methods for the sequential analysis of options needed to build effective decision procedures in practical problems. The scientist studied the problems of optimal control of large and complex systems, as well as the development and implementation of automated control systems of various levels. 

Mikhalevich participated in the creation of a nationwide automated system and a republican automated system for collecting and processing information for the needs of planning and managing the national economy of the Soviet republics.

Vladimir Mikhalevich personally and co-authored more than 200 scientific papers, including about 20 monographs. Most of the works were devoted to optimal solutions and the development of the mathematical apparatus of economic cybernetics. The scientist also participated in the creation of high-performance computers, software packages, and the formation of directions for the development of informatics

Mikhalevich made a great contribution to the development of science and devoted himself to the training of qualified scientific personnel. He also created an authoritative scientific school on optimization and system analysis.

To honor Mikhalevich, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine established the Vladimir Mikhalevich Prize, which recognizes “outstanding achievements in the field of computer science, optimization theory and system analysis.”