🎥 A memorial plaque to the great Ukrainian mathematician was unveiled on the International Day of Mathematics at KPI

Mykhailo Kravchuk's memorial plaque

Recently, a memorial plaque in honor of its famous resident, the outstanding Ukrainian scientist and engineer Yevhen Oskarovych Paton, was unveiled on the historic residential building #5, which is an integral part of the KPI campus. And on March 14, another plaque was unveiled at the entrance to the same entrance in honor of the world-famous Ukrainian mathematician of the twentieth century Mykhailo Pylypovych Kravchuk. 

“Kyiv Polytechnic” has written a lot about this outstanding figure in the history of Ukrainian science, about the very significant scientific and pedagogical legacy that Mykhailo Kravchuk left to future generations, and the importance of his mathematical work, as well as about his years of work at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. But the fact that he lived on the campus for quite a long time was hardly mentioned by the authors of the publications. Now this granite plaque with the bas-relief of the famous scientist will be a brief material evidence of this. Moreover, it is placed right under the memorial plaque with a sculptural portrait of Eugene Paton, because for a certain period Mykhailo Kravchuk lived in the same house as him!

kpi images - At the opening ceremony, March 14, 2024. From left to right, S. Dovgiy, M. Zgurovsky, O. Kuzmin, V. Kremen, and O. Tymokha
At the opening ceremony, March 14, 2024. From left to right, S. Dovgiy, M. Zgurovsky, O. Kuzmin, V. Kremen, and O. Tymokha

“Today we are unveiling a memorial plaque to the outstanding Ukrainian mathematician, teacher, and patriot of Ukraine Mykhailo Pylypovych Kravchuk. He was a unique figure. First of all, we must remember that he was an outstanding scientist. His contributions to higher algebra, the theory of differential and integral equations, probability theory, mathematical statistics, and other areas of mathematics are enormous. One of the many examples of the practical significance of his research is that the creator of the first computer, John Atanasoff, used Mykhailo Kravchuk’s work when working on his brainchild,” said Mykhailo Zgurovsky, Rector of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, opening the plaque unveiling ceremony. He also reminded everyone who gathered that day at building #5 that Professor Kravchuk was an outstanding teacher who knew how to recognize talents and nurture them. It was Mykhailo Kravchuk who first saw and helped to reveal the talents of the outstanding scientist and aircraft engine designer Arkhip Lyulka and the founder of the practical astronaut, the outstanding designer of space technology, Serhiy Korolyov, and played a significant role in the life of another outstanding designer of rocket and space technology, Volodymyr Chelomei. Among Professor Kravchuk’s students was the longtime President of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, prominent scientist Borys Paton, as well as many other outstanding personalities who have written many bright pages in the history of national science and higher education. By the way, Mykhailo Kravchuk delivered his lectures in Ukrainian and wrote most of his articles, monographs, and textbooks on mathematics in Ukrainian. Moreover, it was he who compiled the first Ukrainian dictionary of mathematical terminology and introduced many specifically Ukrainian mathematical terms into scientific use.

The day for the official unveiling of this memorial sign was not chosen by chance: On March 14, the global scientific and educational community celebrates the Day of the Number π, the 3rd month of the year and the 14th day of this month. It is also the International Day of Mathematics. Stanislav Dovhyi, President of the Minor Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and patron of this project, said that thanks to his help, several more facilities were built on the territory of the university, without which it is now difficult to imagine Kyiv Polytechnic. “It was a unique situation when a brilliant scientist, the founder of the Institute of Electric Welding, Yevhen Oskarovych Paton, the future outstanding scientist Borys Yevhenovych Paton, and an outstanding mathematician and a prominent Ukrainian and patriot Mykhailo Pylypovych Kravchuk lived in the same apartment, because it was a communal apartment,” he said.

And this is true, because for some time the families of Yevhen Paton and Mykhailo Kravchuk lived in the same apartment in this house. It was in the early 20s of the twentieth century, after the latter returned from Bohuslav region, where he taught mathematics during the war years at the Savarka village school, which he later headed, and at the same time translated into Ukrainian the widely known geometry textbook by A.P. Kiselyov, prepared his own course of lectures on geometry and a monograph on quadratic forms and linear transformations, etc.

Vasyl Kremen, President of the National Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of Ukraine, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, spoke about Kravchuk’s pedagogical activity at the opening. “In the 1920s, when there was a great need to create Ukrainian educational literature for secondary schools, Mykhailo Kravchuk did a lot in this regard. He edited the first mathematical dictionary for the army. At the time, there was a fashion for creating a new type of educational literature, so with his participation and under his editorship, a Mathematics Workbook for students in grades 5-7 of a seven-year school was prepared and published. He paid a lot of attention to finding talented children and initiated and founded the first all-Ukrainian Olympiad of talented students in mathematics. Such competitions are still being held in all subjects…”.

kpi images - Participants of the opening ceremony near the Mykhailo Kravchuk monument
Participants of the opening ceremony near the Mykhailo Kravchuk monument

Academician Oleksandr Tymokha, Director of the Institute of Mathematics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, recalled Mykhailo Kravchuk not only as an outstanding mathematician but also as an organizer of national science. “He was directly involved in the founding of the Institute of Mathematics. It is believed that its founder was academician Dmytro Grave, and its co-founder was his student Mykhailo Kravchuk,” Oleksandr Tymokha added to the stories of those who spoke before him. “In fact, Kravchuk became the founder of academic mathematics in Ukraine, he was the first doctor of science to defend his thesis in algebra in Ukraine. He also mentioned the names of some famous Ukrainian mathematicians who graduated from Mykhailo Kravchuk’s school of mathematics at KPI and ended his speech with these words: “And this memorial sign in honor of Mykhailo Kravchuk at KPI is to some extent a sign of the deep ties between academic mathematics, the National Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute” and the Small Academy of Sciences.”

The author of the plaque is sculptor Oleksandr Kuzmin. This is not his first work at the university: according to Mykhailo Zgurovsky, it was he who created a plaque in memory of the architects who built Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (it is installed at the entrance to the main building), his works are also in the E.O. Paton Educational and Research Institute of Materials Science and Welding, and two more plaques – to the father and son Patons – are already hanging at the entrance to this building. So the rector thanked the artist and expressed hope that his cooperation with KPI will continue. Speaking about the plaques in honor of Yevhen Paton and Mykhailo Kravchuk, the sculptor said that initially it was planned to make just two memorial plaques with texts about the fact that such prominent scientists lived here, but then the idea to make their portraits arose: “And in the end, no matter how pretentious it may sound, we got a small ‘iconostasis’ dedicated to significant personalities in the history of not only Ukrainian but also world science.”

In 1938, the prominent Ukrainian mathematician Mykhailo Kravchuk was repressed on charges of “bourgeois nationalism” and the creation of a mythical “nationalist organization,” and sentenced to 20 years in prison and 5 years of deprivation of political rights. He served his sentence in a camp on the Kolyma Peninsula and died there in 1942. Only after several years of petitioning by his wife Esfiri Yosypivna in 1956 was Mykhailo Kravchuk posthumously rehabilitated “for lack of corpus delicti,” but for almost 10 years his name was practically never mentioned in the former Soviet Union. Only in 1965, thanks to the efforts of KPI professors Nina Virchenko and Viacheslav Dobrovolsky, as well as journalist and writer Mykola Soroka (incidentally, a former author of Kyiv Polytechnic), did the name of the great Ukrainian scientist begin to return to the national scientific and educational space. Thus, concluding the unveiling ceremony, Mykhailo Zgurovsky mentioned the great work of Professor Nina Virchenko in restoring justice to Mykhailo Kravchuk and perpetuating his memory at KPI. Finally, the participants of the opening laid flowers at his monument, installed on the Alley of prominent scientists and designers whose life and work were associated with KPI. The Alley, which also immortalizes the memory of several of his students…

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A professor at Kyiv Polytechnic thanks to whom computers, television and 3D modeling became a reality. He was the first teacher at Kyiv Polytechnic to give lectures in Ukrainian, for which he was later repressed by the Soviet authorities.

A prominent mathematician, Mykhailo Kravchuk created the first dictionary of Ukrainian mathematical terminology and educated a generation of world-famous inventors such as Arkhip Lyulka, Serhiy Korolyov, Borys Paton, and Lev Lyuliev.

Kravchuk’s mathematical school changed the course of world mathematics, so today, on March 14, on the day of mathematics, an honorary plaque was unveiled at Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute so that everyone could see: the great Ukrainian scientist Mykhailo Kravchuk lived and worked here.