Blue & Yellow
Blue & Yellow: Mykhailo Kravchuk – a prominent mathematician.
February 13, 2023

Introduction: Uncovering Ukraine is a series of short stories about Ukrainians who’ve advanced technology, art, and science to new heights. Check out our other articles in this series.

Mykhailo Kravchuk, born on October 9, 1892 in the village of Chovnytsia, was the most prominent Ukrainian mathematician of the 20th century. He was a teacher of future world-famous rocket and space technology designers, academicians Arkhip Lyulka, Serhiy Korolyov and Volodymyr Chelomey. Kravchuk displayed remarkable mathematical abilities in his youth and graduated from St. Volodymyr University of Kyiv with a 1st degree diploma. He was involved in organizing the Ukrainian National University and was a professor at several influential Ukrainian institutes.

Kravchuk wrote over 180 scientific works, including over 10 monographs, covering a wide range of mathematical topics. His work was recognized abroad and he was a member of several international mathematical societies. His methods were used by scientists in cybernetic technology and by the inventor of the world’s first electronic digital computer, John Vincent Atanasoff.

Kravchuk was a patriot of Ukraine and was dedicated to education issues. He organized the first mathematical Olympics for schoolchildren in Kyiv and taught future creators of rocket and space technology. He was arrested in 1938 on false charges and died in a Gulag camp in 1942. In 1956, he was posthumously acquitted of all charges.

Mykhailo Kravchuk’s contributions to mathematics have been widely recognized. He is considered to be one of the pioneers of the theory of orthogonal polynomials and his work on Kravchuk polynomials has had a significant impact in the field of approximation theory. He also made important contributions to the study of differential equations, the theory of linear transformations, and mathematical statistics.

Kravchuk was a dedicated educator and was committed to promoting mathematical education in Ukraine. He was known for his innovative teaching methods. Many of his students went on to become prominent figures in their fields, including the designers of rocket and space technology, Sergey Korolev and Volodymyr Chelomey. Despite the challenges he faced under the Soviet regime, Kravchuk remained steadfast in his commitment to Ukraine and worked tirelessly to advance mathematical education in his country.

Today, Mykhailo Kravchuk is remembered as a pioneering mathematician and dedicated educator. His contributions to mathematics and his impact on the field continue to be recognized and celebrated. The Kravchuk polynomials and the Kravchuk matrix are named after him.

The street near Lutsk and Kyiv named after him and the monument to Kravchuk at the National Technical University of Ukraine “Kyiv Polytechnic Institute” serve as a testament to his legacy and the significance of his work.


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