Izrael Akushsky - the Founder of Non-traditional Computer Arithmetics


Israel Akushsky was born on July 30, 1911 in Dnepropetrovsk into the family of the city's high rabbi who became a teacher after the October 1917 revolution.

While still a student at Moscow State University (MSU), Israel started working as a calculator at the MSU's Mathematics and Mechanics Scientific Research Institute.

The Mathematical Institute (where Akushsky had moved in 1936 as a junior scientific assistant) received a government order to calculate shooting tables for artillery guns and navigation tables for military aviation.

In 1948 the Academy of Scienceof the USSR organized the Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computing Technology (IPMCT).

It was during the years 1952 to 1954 that the idea emerged in Akushsky for creating a special computing system that would considerably accelerate the calculating process by means of computers. He dedicated the rest of his life to its realization. He shared his ideas about a calculation system of residual classes (SRC) during one of his Moscow visits in a conversation with Academician Lavrentiev.

In 1960 Izrael Akuhsky was invited to lead an analogous project at the Scientific Research Institute of Long-Distance Radio Communication (where F.Lukin had just been appointed director), he agreed without hesitation.

The planned productivity for a computer based on a system of residual classes was about 1,25 million op/s. It should be noted that typical computer performance for those days was in the tens of thousands op/s. The computer was created in a very short time period and was successfully used in the national air defense system. This computer is still manufactured industrially and in use today, having received a second life thanks to a change of the elemental base to integral microchips.

In Czechoslovakia, under Svoboda's management, the "Epos" computer also using SRC, though it had lower operational speed and was practically not used.

Academician Lebedev highly appreciated and supported Akushsky. Once, seeing him at a meeting he said: - "I would have made a high performance computer differently, but not everybody works in the same way. May God bless your work!"

However, despite a series of technical solutions which later became inventions, patented in such leading computer technology countries as the UK, USA and Japan, the way was not always smooth. When Akushsky was already working in Zelenograd a US firm was found, desiring to cooperate in the creation of a computer "stuffed" with Akushsky's ideas and the latest cutting-edge American technology. Preliminary negotiations were already in progress. K.Valiyev, director of the Institute of Molecular Electronics had prepared for the development of the work with modern microchips from the USA, when suddenly Akushsky was called up on the carpet by the "competent bodies" (from the government), where without any explanations, they told him that the "Zelenograd Scientific Center was not going to enrich the intelligence potential of the West!" Suddenly, all the work stopped. Unfortunately, it was not the only case when rudeness, ignorance or intrigues blocked the way for the bright scientific ideas and technical progress, the bearer of whom was Israel Akushsky.

Akushsky heavily suffered from the death of Lukin and the halting of the new computer project. Although he achieved the possibility of preparing an experimental model of the computer in Dnepropetrovsk (Akushsky's native city and a good omen for the project, he thought), now he was not even supported by the director of his own Institute. He decided to retire on a pension and work at home, where there was no need to study ideas from outside, and had his share of followers (he had educated more than 90 scientists, 10 of whom became Ph.Ds!).

On the special computers constructed under his management in the early 1960's, for the first time in the USSR and in the world operational speeds of more than 1,0 million op/s and reliability in the thousands of hours was reached. Using the system of residual classes, he developed methods of calculations for super high ranges of numbers which consisted of hundred of thousands of digits. Akushsky's work helped show the approach to resolution of a series of tasks of number theory which were had remained unsolved since the days of Fermat, Gauss and Euler.

Israel Akushsky published more than 200 scientific works (including 12 monographs) which enjoyed wide popularity in the Soviet Union and abroad He received more than 90 invention certificates, most of which are now patented in the USA, Japan, West Germany. More than 80 Ph.D.'s and 10 Doctors of Science were former students of Akushsky.

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