Vyshnegradskii, Ivan Alekseevich

Vyshnegradskii, Ivan Alekseevich


Born Dec. 20, 1831 (Jan. 1, 1832), in Vyshnii Volochek; died Mar. 25 (Apr. 6), 1895, in St. Petersburg. Russian scientist and government figure. Founder of the theory of automatic controls. Honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1888).

Upon completing the physics and mathematics department of the Main Pedagogical Institute in St. Petersburg in 1851, Vyshnegradskii taught at the Second St. Petersburg Cadet Corps. In 1862 he became a professor of mechanics at the St. Petersburg Institute of Technology and in 1865, a professor of practical mechanics at the Mikhail Artillery Academy. From 1867 until 1878 he worked as a mechanical engineer at the Main Artillery Directorate. In 1875 he became director of the St. Petersburg Institute of Technology.

Vyshnegradskii deserves great credit for the establishment of the scientific foundations of machine design. He introduced the teaching of a course in the theoretical foundations of machine building. At the St. Petersburg Institute of Technology and at the Mikhail Artillery Academy Vyshnegradskii lectured in applied mechanics, thermodynamics, theory of elasticity, load-lifting machines, turning lathes, steam machines, and other subjects. He introduced course and diploma projects for students. In 1860 he published the manual Elementary Mechanics, which was considered the best in Russia for many years.

Vyshnegradskii designed an automatic press for manufacturing prismatic powder, hoisting machines, a press for testing materials, a mechanical freight reloader (for river ports), and other machines. In his book On Direct-Action Regulators (1877), Vyshnegradskii proposed a method for designing regulators of this type. He formulated the stability condition for control systems (the Vyshnegradskii criterion). The method of the graphic separation of the plane of the parameters of the control system into areas of stability and the method for investigating the quality of a transitional process, which were first put into practice by Vyshnegradskii, lie at the basis of control theory.

Beginning in the second half of the 1870’s, Vyshnegradskii gradually withdrew from scientific and teaching activity and began actively participating in private capitalist companies, joining the boards of directors of the St. Petersburg Society of Water Lines, the Southwest Railroads, and other societies. Serving as minister of finances from 1888 to 1892, Vyshnegradskii was able to achieve some balance in the budget, accumulate gold reserves, and strengthen the rate of exchange of the paper ruble.


In an anthology by J. C. Maksvell, I. A. Vyshnegradskii, and A. Stodola. Teoriia avtomaticheskogo regulirovaniia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.


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