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Biographical Notes on Valentin Turchin

(See Profile of Valentin Turchin for another, more up-to-date biographical sketch, by Ben Goertzel.)
Prof. Valentin Turchin is originally from the Soviet Union. He holds three degrees in theoretical physics, in 1952, 1957, and 1963, and worked in neutron and solid state physics.

In the 1960's he turned his attention to mathematics and computer science, accepting a position at the Moscow Institute of Applied Mathematics. There he worked in statistical regularization methods and authored REFAL, one the the first AI languages. REFAL is a purely functional, pattern matching language with simple semantics, in the same class as LISP and PROLOG. It is currently the AI language of choice in the Soviet Union.

In the 1960's Dr. Turchin became politically active. In 1968 he authored " Inertia of Fear and the Scientific Worldview", a scathing critique of totalitarianism and an emerging cybernetic social theory. Following its publication in the underground press, he lost his research laboratory.

In 1970 he authored "The Phenomenon of Science", a grand cybernetic meta-theory of universal evolution, which broadened and deepened the earlier book. In 1977 it was published in English by Columbia University Press, followed by "The Inertia of Fear" in 1981.

By 1973 Dr. Turchin had founded the Moscow chapter of Amnesty International and was working closely with Andrei Sakharov. In 1974 he lost his position at the Institute, and was persecuted by the KGB. Facing almost certain imprisonment, he and his family were expelled from the Soviet Union in 1977. He came to New York and joined the Computer Science faculty of the City University of New York in 1979, where he currently teaches and owns the company Refal Systems Inc.

It is difficult to completely describe the scope of Dr. Turchin's work. Philosphical unity is achieved through the concept of the Meta-System Transition, in which higher levels of hierarchical control emerge in system structure and function. Dr. Turchin uses this concept to provide a global theory of evolution and a coherent social systems theory, to develop a complete cybernetic philosophical and ethical system, and to build constructivist foundation of mathematics. Using the REFAL language he has implemented a Supercompiler, a unified method for program transformation and optimization using the meta-system transition concept.


Joslyn, Cliff, and Turchin, Valentin: (1990) "Introduction to the
     Principia Cybernetic Project", to be published, available by
     electronic mail
Turchin, Valentin:  /Cybernetic Foundation of Mathematics/, to be
     /Computation and Metacomputation in Refal/, available with
     software system
     (1977) /Phenomenon of Science/, Columbia U., New York
          Cybernetic theory of universal evolution.  Metascience as a
          cybernetic enterprise.
     (1981) /Inertia of Fear and Scientific Worldview/, Columbia U. Press,
     New York
          Interpretation of totalitarianism from the persepctive of cybernetic
          social theory.
     (1982) "Institutionalization of Values", /Worldview/, v. 11/82
          Review of Turchin's social theory and defense of reviews of
          _Phenomenon of Science_ and _Inertia of Fear_.
     (1985) "Orlov in Exile", /Physics Today/, v. 7/8
     (1986) "Concept of a Supercompiler", /ACM Trans. of Prog. Lang. and
     Sys./, v. 8:3
     (1987) "Constructive Interpretation of Full Set Theory", /J. of
     Symbolic Logic/, v. 52:1
          Almost complete reconstruction of ZF set theory from a constructivist
          philosophy, including implementation in the REFAL language.

Turchin, Valentin, and Joslyn, Cliff: (1989) "Cybernetic Manifesto",

Copyright© 1990 Principia Cybernetica - Referencing this page

C. Joslyn,

27 Jan 1990


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