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Kitov Anatoliy Ivanovich

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A satirical character of Russian literature used to say, “Specialist in a limited subject looks like a swollen cheek”. It was the 19 th century, the time of industrial revolutions marked, among other, with advance of a “new professional”, both highly skilled in a concrete job and unaware (or simply ignorant) of anything else regarding its pre- or following stages.

Contradiction between realizing fundamental principles in general (or seeing the whole process /structure/) on one hand, and deep thorough study of particular details without clear understanding of their proper place in the whole system they belong to, on the other one could also be traced in development of information technologies. Their nature is very complicated and basically very specific, some of their aspects could even be observed from philosophic positions. However, those focused on concrete problems often aren't engaged (or even interested) in conceptual issues.


Kitov Anatoliy Ivanovich

Increasing rupture between the progress of computers themselves and methodological support of their implementation is a characteristic feature of our time. The problem (provided it was considered at all) was less significant in the beginning period, when design of concrete computer was always predestined by problems and demands of the “customer” (scientific laboratory, anti-rocket defence centre, etc.) Steady growth of computer mass-production together with consumer market extension actively draws attention of both experts and common users to search for new implementations. Equally important is a task of working out methods for their rational, efficient usage in “traditional” applications.

All that gives proofs for considering application “methodology” as science of notable perspective. In reality the issue is too serious to be -even briefly- described in a small abstract but one can mention, not without pride, that already in the beginning of “computer era” there were some far-seeing specialists who dedicated it years of their work.

The notion “methodology” could rightfully be an epigraph to the whole life of Anatoly Kitov - brilliant and enthusiastic scientist, one of the first Soviet cyberneticists.

Anatoliy Ivanovich Kitov was born on the 9 th of August 1920, in town of Kuibyshev (now Samara) on middle Volga . During the previous Civil War (1918-1920) his father, Ivan Stepanovich Kitov served in tsarist White army as a junior officer what could have negative consequences those times. So a year later Kitov the elder, with wife and children, moved to Tashkent ( Uzbekistan ) where he received position of an accountant at a building company. Anatoly Kitov graduated from secondary school in 1939. For excellent results in study and brilliant abilities he was awarded a gold medal[1]. In the same year he entered the Tashkent university but after a three months was called up for military service. Since he again demonstrated outstanding talents the army commander in chief field marshal K.E. Voroshilov personally ordered to enlist Kitov into High Artillery School[2] of Leningrad. With outbreak of the war, in July 1941, he was dispatched to the South front as an artillery platoon commander. He spent all four war years in anti-aircraft artillery, where he himself steadily continued study of mathematics using every free minute.

With the end of war, in 1945, he entered the Artillery Engineering Academy in Moscow where he at once started his study from the second year level [3]. He passed all exams for the first year during entering procedure. Studying at the Academy was really a glorious time. The hardships of war were gone by and the “hunger for knowledge” among the young officers-students was enormous. Academy administrators (generals Khokhlov, Kuleshov, Dyakonov, Beresin, etc.) in their turn did a lot to help the students. Mathematicians L.A. Lyusternik, A.A.Lyapunov[4],

L.A. Tumarkin, S.M. Targ, N.A. Sleshkin, Y.M. Shapiro taught mathematics on extended program. Academy administration provided convenient conditions for their work. General Kuleshov - the rector, permitted students to attend lectures of academician A.N. Kolmogorov and other prominent scientists at the Moscow State University 's faculty of mathematics, and even join it (on distant learning basis) in parallel with the academic study. It was his sole initiative which could also bring him some bureaucratic troubles, but he was an enthusiastic person himself. Solid knowledge (and abilities) in mathematics and physics, not the military excellence, were the main criteria for study at the Academy that time.

Formidable knowledge obtained at such exciting learning enabled Kitov's beginning of own scientific research already before graduation. Being still a student he received a patent ( USSR “Author's Certificate”) for devised by him so-called “jet cannon”. Not all details of the invention were known but its significance could be estimated from the fact that the Ministry of Defence reported about it directly to I.V. Stalin.

In 1950 he received the diploma, and was also awarded a Gold medal. Now his name is engraved with gold letters on special plate at the academy among the most prominent graduates.

In 1950-1952 Kitov worked as scientific consultant for the Ministry of Defence. In 1952 he successfully submitted dissertation thesis “Programming for ballistic problems of the long-range rockets” and received scientific degree “Candidate of technical sciences”. In 1952-1954 he headed mathematical department at the Artillery Engineering academy. However, the appointment as military expert into one of the first Soviet computer design bureaus –SDB-245, later Moscow Scientific-Research Institute of Digital Electronic Computers (SRIDEC) - became decisive stage in his career.

The period from 1950 till 1954 was famous for official “struggle with pseudo-sciences”. Criticism of the cybernetics by mass media was very severe. Articles of various levels, ranging from abstracts in scientific journal “Mathematics” to anecdotes in humoristic weeklies, noisily blamed “corrupt ideology of cybernetics”. Especially famous was extremely aggressive -although anonymous- one, “Whom serves the cybernetics”, published in high rank periodical “Problems of Philosophy” (N5, 1953).

Nevertheless rapid progress in technologies, first of all in defence industry, made it clear not only for experts but also for the higher administration that cybernetic researches should be not suppressed but accelerated. That was the main reason for positive answer from editors of the same “Problems of Philosophy” to fundamental article describing necessity of cybernetic progress – reply to the critical one- signed by academician S.A, Sobolev, A.I. Kitov and A.A. Lyapunov. By that time A.I. Kitov had become experienced scientist himself and the first expert on military application of computers.

The idea to answer the challenge of criticism has rather notable pre-history. In 1952, Special Design Bureau – 245 (SDB-245) was running design project of the first serially produced computer “Strela”. Once, when Kitov was working at its library, he came across the book by American scientist Norbert Wiener "Cybernetics or Control and Communication in Animal and Machine”. The book was published in America in 1948, but in the USSR it was officially rejected for its contradiction to “basic principles of Marxism”, or rather to how they were understood that time. Therefore it had neither been published in Russian nor available in foreign languages in the USSR . However, several copies were delivered to the USSR for “special purposes”. The SDB-245 was secret, “closed”, organization since it was conducting works in defence field, therefore all its materials, including library books, were marked “secret” and were permitted only for in-house usage. Kitov, working at the SDB-245 as military expert, was interested in everything connected with computers and computing so he carefully read the book and, “…having read it, I came to the conclusion that cybernetics was not bourgeois pseudo-science, as it was officially displayed that time, but on the contrary – a serious and important science. It was the year 1952.” [5].

A.I.Kitov told about that to his teacher and friend A.A. Lyapunov who recommended him to write an article describing basic ideas of the cybernetics. At the same secret library A.I.Kitov created the article “Basic features of cybernetics”. The other problem consisted in its publication. Lyapunov suggested to invite academician S. Sobolev, the mathematician who was elected a full member of the USSR Academy of Science in 1939 when he was only 31. That made him the youngest one there. In the early 1950s Sobolev's work turned towards computational mathematics, in 1952 he became head of the first department of computational mathematics in the Soviet Union, when he organi z ed it at the Moscow State University . He also had more scientific influence for his participation in projects connected with nuclear physics. Sobolev approved the article and agreed to be a co-author.

After that Kitov and Lyapunov visited the “Problems of Philosophy”. To their surprise the reception they met at the journal was positive and rather co-operative. The publishers only asked for official approval from the Communist Party Central Committee. Then it was the USSR highest administrative level. Officials of the Committee department on science turned to be young, competent and also co-operative. During constructive discussion following the report they demonstrated supportive understanding, but suggested to begin with “…rebuilding public attitude to the issue”, reasonably noticing that it could not be done “at once”. It was agreed that a series of public reports would precede the publication. That was a certain “break through”.

However it took almost a year, during which Kitov and Lyapunov organized numerous lectures and reports at Universities, scientific centres, All-Union society “Znanie” (knowledge) for popularisation of science and propagation of its achievements, etc. As a result the Central Committee provided official agreement for publication.

Later Gaase-Rapoport [6] remembered: “In 1954 a methodological seminar also took place at the Research Institute No 5 of the Ministry of Defence. The participants set a discussion on positive role of the cybernetics. There Anatoliy Ivanovich Kitov presented his big draft of the article “Basic features of cybernetics” . Then he showed it to Lyapunov who himself added some pages and to academician S. Sobolev who also agreed to sign it. That was the way how the famous article “Basic features of cybernetics” appeared. That was actually the beginning.” Also the article “What is cybernetics” (quite friendly and positive) was written by famous Soviet Marxist philosopher, a person of influence, Ernst Kolmann, and both articles were finally published in the “Problems of Philosophy” No 4, already in 1955 . A year later in 1956 Kitov published his book “Digital computing machines” [7]

Tthe first soviet book on cybernetics. So it appeared eight years later as the Wiener's “Cybernetics”. Nevertheless a reaction for it was always very positive. According to Kitov's description the following development had an explosive character, “…as if a dam came tumbling down”. Books and other publications were numerous, new university departments and research institutes appeared very quickly.

In 1954 A .I. Kitov created and was appointed as a chief of the “Computer Centre No 1” (CC-1) of the USSR Ministry of Defence. There his military status equalled a rank of general but he was mainly engaged in scientific work and in solving related administrative problems. A.I.Kitov managed to appoint many talented colleagues as heads of CC-1 departments and laboratories. Many of them later became prominent scientists themselves. Among them were N.P. Buslenko, I.A.Poletaev, N.A. Krinitskiy, K.V. Tarakanov, G.G. Belono g ov, Bogatyrev, G.A.Mironov, G.D.Frolov, A.N.Nechaev, S.A.Abramov, I.A.Daniljchenko, P.N.Komolov, Bukhtijrov, and others. Experienced scientists A.A. Lyapunov, L.A. Lyusternic, Gutenmacher also worked in CC-1 for some time. Monograph “Digital Computing Machines” by A.I.Kitov, of 1956, published by “Sovetskoye Radio”, the first Soviet book in cybernetics, was translated into several foreign languages and published in several countries of the East Europe and China . Later it was referred to in some foreign publications. Thus an article [8] by J.W. Carr (et al.) ( USA ) mentioned that the most complete description of computer programming for such (economic) problems one could find in Kitov's book, which also could be useful for foreign students. That was one of the first (published) works on the subject. “ So Anatoliy Ivanovich Kitov was the author of the first article and first book in cybernetics in the USSR .

It was followed in 1956 with the book “Elements of Programming”, by A.I. Kitov, N.A. Krinitskiy and P.N. Komolov. The latter book also contained discourse on implementation of computers in economy. His text-book “Electronic digital computers and programming” (A.I. Kitov, N.A. Krinitskiy. 1959.) was the most popular one among engineering universities. Generation of students, not only in Russia but in the whole East Europe , studied programming with that book. In 1962 Pergamon Press published English translation of “Electronic Computers” by A.I. Kitov and N.A. Krinitskiy which first appeared in Russian edition in 1958.

In autumn 1959 Kitov devised a new plan. He got an idea of creation unified automated administrative control system to be used simultaneously for army and civil economy. It should be based on common network of computer centres established and maintained by the Ministry of Defence. Concentration of computers in powerful centres with reliable maintenance, run by military personnel, would sufficiently raise quality of their usage [9].

His report was prepared for presentation at the governmental office within several months. Special analytic commission (under field-marshal K.K. Rokossovskiy – one of the army highest officials) was established for that occasion. Preface of the report contained rather sharp criticism of slow and inadequate implementation of computing machinery and technologies in whole defence system. Even more, according to the given conclusions the whole administrative structure should be basically reorganised. Although not all details of the discussion were known result was quite famous: Kitov was expelled from the (Communist) party and “moved off” from his administrative position. That was the main result of his “twin-purpose technology” project.

One could speculate on his “lack of diplomacy”, underestimation of realities or too theoretical and schematic approach, but nobody could ever doubt his civic courage.

It was a severe blow. That could be certain end of any political, scientific, etc. career for most of those who would, by a misplay of luck, find himself in similar situation but not for Kitov. He was (and still is) a man of ideas. Although being forced to start again with another work, in the beginning of the 1960-s, he did not quit the idea of global automatic control system. In 1961 A .I. Berg began publishing his famous collection of scientific articles “Cybernetics - to service for communism”. The stress on ideological side of the problem (in the title) was a diplomatic move by Berg, who was well aware of still remaining prejudices against the cybernetics. Article by Kitov “Cybernetics and management of national economy” was one of its key items.

In 1959 Kitov, in collaboration with engineers Mel'nikov and Selesnev received patent for new operation principle of computer central arithmetic device, so-called “Method of computer command rate quadruple combination”. That method was implemented in computer M-100 for operative processing of information transmitted from radio locator. Also it was used in solving problems of antiaircraft missile aiming at flying target. In fact Kitov was the chief designer of M-100. Its architecture was described in his dissertation thesis “Computer applications for problems of antiaircraft defence”, which was successfully submitted in 1963 and awarded “Doctor of technical sciences” degree. He analysed basic principles of special computers design and structure, their algorithmic programming languages, as well as computer modelling (mathematical) of dynamic systems for antiaircraft defence problems such as ballistics, flying target tracking, etc.

In 1965-1972 Kitov occupied directorial position at the main computation centre of the Ministry for Radio-Engineering Industry. There he also conducted development of automatic management system (OMS) for that industrial branch as its Chief Constructor. His team worked out main algorithms for OMS, traced ways of information, created modelling methods and produced sufficient amount of software. That system was highly evaluated by the governmental experts and recommended as standard for other ministries connected with defence production. Academician V. Glushkov [10] director of Institute of Cybernetics and vice-president of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was scientific leader of the OMS project. Kitov kept close partnership with him.

In the 1970-s Kitov left army service and turned to implementation of information systems and computer engineering in medicine. That was the period when automatic systems for control and management became very popular. Those years Kitov performed design of automatic management system “Health care”. He formed information model of medical branch, developed standard structure of the system, software packages for information arrays control, developed logic, structure and functional algorithms for information retrieval systems, etc. His principal monograph (1976) written about that project was named, “Automation of information processing and control in health care”. In 1977 publishing house “Medicine” produced his another book, “Introduction to medical cybernetics”, and in 1983 one more on the subject, called “Medical cybernetics”.

Many years Kitov represented USSR in the international organization for medical cybernetics MedINFO. He was a programming committee member of many international conferences run by IFIP and MedINFO.

Generally speaking his activity with medical information systems was much nearer to contemporary issues than one could judge from the titles. For example he managed to install in a Moscow hospital one of the first PDP-11/70 – a highly efficient mini-computer of the middle-1970-s. Its programming system MUMPS - Massachusetts General Hospital Multiprogramming System (later it was standard ISO11756:1991) was popular in the USSR as programming system DIAMS for minicomputers SM-4 (similar to PDP). It was predecessor of modern M-technologies for medical applications, supported by post-relational data base control system Cache of Inter-Systems.

He is also famous as one of the leading experts in information retrieval systems, algorithmic languages and methods of associative programming. Results of his researches were presented in his monographs, “Programming for information retrieval problems” (1967) and “Programming for economic and management problems” (1971). The both were issued by the publishing house “Soviet Radio”.

Kitov authored and introduced notion “associative programming”, defining it as following. “Associative programming is a totality of solution methods, intended for information logic problems, which are based on programming of associative relations between the data stored in computer memory”. “In other countries this range of problems is also called: list-processing, node-processing, chain-addressing, control words method, etc.”. His special report on the subject was delivered at the “Big seminar” on 16.11.1962.

Kitov himself widely used positive features of programming languages of LISP class. Their primitive (elementary) operations provide processing of two neighbouring members of the chain list. Associative programming considered not only serial and chain lists but also list groups and more complex list structures (e.g. node lists). Processing of lists was considered in connection with other procedures of ALGOL and COBOL.

Subsequently he made an interesting experiment producing original algorithmic language ALGEM. It was intended for information logic problems of economic information processing. ALGEM was a procedural language created by extension of ALGOL-60 with means of processing description for big arrays with fixed content and data registration structure, which were placed into computer storage in a serial way. Also the means of listed information processing were implemented, provided the amount of data registrations in arrays and their position in memory were not pre-determined. Both ALGEM and its translator for popular universal computer MINSK-22 were widely used in the 1970-s. Then Kitov published book “System of automatic programming ALGEM” (Moscow, “Statistika”, 1970).

A.I. Kitov also made notable contribution as academic teacher. He supervised and consulted Master's and Doctoral dissertations of more than 40 scientists of the USSR , German Democratic Republic, Bulgaria , Viet-Nam and other countries. He also has been a member of the journal “Programming” editorial board from the very day of its establishing.

His scientific career Kitov completed holding the “Computer engineering” chair at the Moscow Institute of National Economy (named after G.V. Plekhanov), where he was appointed in 1980 (at present it is named “ Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics”). In 1997 he retired.

Anatoliy Ivanovich Kitov died in 14 th of October, 2005 and is buried in Moscow .


1.The USSR highest school award. The next (lower) were Silver medal and a Certificate of Honour.

2. Equals in status and educational level to civil institute (technical university).

3. An exceptional thing, level of demands was always very high.

4. Alexey Andreevich Lyapunov - distant relative of Alexander Lyapunov, the famous mathematician. Lyapunov family was rich in famous scientific names within many generations.

At the Artillery Academy Alexey Lyapunov taught mathematics on extended program. He was convinced that it developed scientific way of thinking, logic and increased scientific culture in general. His influence on the students was equally enormous. Outside the curriculum he established additional regular home seminar, what was fully in classical traditions of Moscow scientists. It lasted without interruption from 1948 till 1954. Kitov became one of his most active pupils and followers. The first soviet “cyberneticists in uniform” - officers Kitov and Igor Poletayev, also students of the Moscow State University N. Buslenko, S. Yablonskiy, etc. were always present; later they were, quite logically, among the pioneers of the soviet cybernetics.

5. From Kitov's personal interview to computer magazine “Computerra” No 43, 18.11.1996.

6. M.G. Gaase-Rapoport (1919-1996) famous Soviet cyberneticist. In 1941 graduated from the Artillery academy. In 1961 published, “Automata and Living Organisms” - one of the USSR first books on cybernetics.

7. A.I. Kitov. “Digital computing machines”, “Sovetskoe Radio”, 1956.

8.A visit to computation centres in the Soviet Union. John W. Carr, Alan J. Perlis, James E. Robertson, Norman R. Scott June 1959 Communications of the ACM, volume 2, Issue 6

9. Similar project – so-called OGAS- was suggested by academician Viktor Glushkov in Kiev at the 1960-s (see also V.G. …) OGAS suggested the idea of control and management on basis of computers on all levels of the in national economy. Glushkov was a close friend of Kitov and very energetic person. He struggled for the project for about 20 years but, although he himself won friendly understanding from the USSR prime minister (A.N. Kosygin), the result was minimal. Some success he reached chiefly in administrative qualification up-grading. However, according to some expert opinion implementation of such projects could greatly increase executive efficiency of the state administration.

10. Academician Viktor Mikhailovich Glushkov was vice-president of the Academy of Science Ukraine and director of the Institute of Cybernetics ( Kiev ). He enthusiastically worked with the project for almost twenty years paying enormous amount of energy for struggle with bureaucratic obstacles, administrative conservatism, etc. Although OMS was –unfortunately- never fully realised some, achieved in practice, results proved high scientific level of its advanced ideas. Thus the qualification up-grading faculty at the Kiev Institute of Management in National Economy, created by V.M. Glushkov within OMS framework program greatly contributed to increasing quality level of computer education, especially among responsible administrators. It also increased their awareness in contemporary computer progress and in both advantages of its applied technologies and its problems.


  1. Virtual computer museum, V.A. Kitov, E.N. Filinov, L.G. Chernyak. “Anatoly Ivanovich Kitov” (Russ. version).
  2. D.A. Pospelov, J.I. Fet (eds.). “Essays on the History of Computer Science in Russia”. Nauka, Novosibirsk, 1998.
  3. G. Trogemann, A.Y. Nitussov, W. Ernst (eds.) “Computing in Russia”. VIEWEG, Wiesbaden, 2001
  4. B.N. Malinovskiy. “History of computing in persons”. Kiev, KIT, 1994.
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