Cybernetic techniques | History of Computing in Ukraine

Cybernetic techniques

The term "cybernetic technique" proposed by B.Malinovsky was established in 1978. In the "Encyclopedia of Cybernetics" (1976, editor – V.Glushkov) this term is not mentioned. Unlike the computational techniques, cybernetic technique became an important direction of science, connected with the task of facilities creation for control, measuring, automatic and automated systems and devices with a use of computers. Its predecessor – technical cybernetics, was aimed to elaborate the theory of control systems, first of all the scientific basis for automatic control, but not to create technical facilities to make them.

Creation and numerous usage of the machine "Dnepr" positively influenced the emerging of cybernetic technique. Later on, the Section of Cybernetic Techniques began to elaborate not only the control computers and specialized computing devices, but also information transmission media, communication facilities for the control systems operators, and the issues of their usage to control different processes, automation of difficult experiments and measuring devices.

The appearance of cybernetic technique was fairly caused by increasing demand for the automated facilities, by aspiration for having the effective, cheap, reliable, easy-touse technical devices to construct the automatic and automated systems in different fields of economy, science and technology, in the military service, in the instrument-making industry. These devices would solve the problems different from ones, which are usually solved by ordinary computers in the computing centers or with the help of personal or other calculators. The foundation of cybernetic technique, which first came out from the computing techniques, was also automation, telemechanics, automatic control, measuring technique. On their basis cybernetic technique acquired independence.

A growing demand for various calculations in science and technology became the driving force in computing technique development. The improvement of computing technique devices developed into two directions: creation of the powerful universal computers, computers for technical and engineering calculations, terminal computers for the shared computation systems; and also into development of computer technique for personal use by engineers, students, schoolchildren, administrators etc. The main requirements to the computing technique devices were highest productivity, usability, comfortable service for both collective and individual users, simplicity in communication between human and machine. As we know, computing technique is created to provide a powerful calculation and intellectual activity automation means to the people.

The driving force for cybernetic technique development was the intention to automate different technological and measuring processes, day-to-day industrial management, control over energy, transport and other objects, including ones in the field of armament and space exploration (recognition processes) with the aim to eliminate human from the control and management over these processes. For such purpose calculation is only a part of the whole complex of information processes, which are to be automated. In such a view the computers are not a unique means for their construction, though they play a role of a central intellectual part of the systems. Besides, for these purposes there should be means of automatic information exchange between the computer and other objects, distant information transmission (both digital and analog), report on processes to the operator's display, operator's interference with the processes, etc. Thus, the composition of cybernetic facilities was much broader than ones of computing techniques. In some applications, for instance, in the facilities for communications with object, the part of computing technique devices was minimal compared with the great range of other equipment.

Besides, there appeared special demands for the computing devices, which are to be included into the cybernetic technique. The high speed of calculation operations was no longer the main criteria of their qualities in some cases. If it was hallmarked, it was usually compiled with other demands for processor efficiency, cost, size of device, reliability, etc. There were special demands for organization of the computing process. Among them: information processing in a real time scale, cyclic repetition of the same programs but with different initial conditions, selection of computing devices toward definite classes of calculations, etc. The opportunity to apply extreme speed of calculations for definite groups of applications. It is often needed to disperse the computing devices in the cybernetic systems, according to the process specificity, which should be automated. That also brings necessity to build the parted hierarchic, homogenous, circular and other computing structures. In addition to algorithmic universality (in fixed limits, caused by the application classes), there should be system universality on behalf of computing devices that were part of cybernetic technique (within the limits of planned applications), which brought peculiarities into the principles of its construction (modularity, interfaces to link with object communication devices, etc.)

Mathematical foundation of the cybernetic technique also has its own peculiarities (standard programs and languages oriented on application fields, hardware programs, programs preparation on universal computers, circuit programs implementation, truncated operating system, etc.)

A significant contribution into the research was made by the technical departments of the Computing Center of the AS Ukr.SSR and by the Section of Cybernetic Techniques of the Institute of Cybernetics, AS Ukr.SSR, whose staff increased to 500 scientists, engineers, laboratory assistants and technicians in 20 years (1962–1982).

Following profound works can serve as an examples: creation and wide use of several hundreds of "Dnepr" machines at the industrial enterprises and many research organizations of the Soviet Union; development and production of the first Soviet family of universal microcomputers "Electronica S5" (together with scientific production association "Svetlana", St-Petersburg, Russia); development (in collaboration with Kiev S.Korolev Production association) and wide usage of control machines SOU-1 and SOU-2, of microprocessor-based complex facilities, including a professionally oriented PC "Neuron", modular set of microprocessor-based tuning devices SO-01 – SO-04 for the benefit of the whole communication facilities industry of the USSR; elaboration of the professionally-oriented PC ES-1841 (together with the research institute of Radioprom of the USSR), creation of signal digital processing, devices super productive facilities for pattern recognition, digital specialized devices for control over high-speed physical processes, video-computer terminals, systems of engineering works automation, knowledge-oriented intellectual systems, powerful clustered computing complexes, systems of scientific experiments automation for the organizations of the Academy of Science Ukr.SSR, unique control systems of different applications, including military, etc.

Great collective efforts of the Section of the cybernetic technique staff furthered the formation and successful work of the scientific school in this incredibly important field of knowledge.

Significant contribution into creation of the cybernetic technique was made by following colleagues who became over the years a famous scientists decorated with medals and prizes: B.Malinovsky, Z.Rabinovich, G.Mikhaylov, V.Derkach, A.Kondalev, A.Luchuk, A.Palagin, I.Voytovich, V.Boyun, V.Egipko, Y.Yakovlev, Y.Ivaskiv, E.Bryukhovich, S.Zabara, V.Koval, V.Gladun, S.Pogorely, V.Gamayun, A.Bekh, V.Romanov, A.Timashov, M.Semotyuk, T.Slobodyanyuk, N.Alishov, F.Zykov, L.Malinovsky, V.Solovyov, L.Korytna and others.

By B.N. Malinovskiy.