Nemchinov, Vasily Sergeyevich

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(1894-1964), Soviet statistician, mathematical economist, and reformer.

Though originally trained as a statistician, Nemchinov became one of the most versatile and productive members of the Soviet economics establishment. During the early period of his career, his specialty was agricultural economics and statistics, on which he published a number of important theoretical works. He developed methods for measuring livestock herds and grain harvests from aerial observations, which were intended to remove human error but led ironically to the scandalous exaggeration of Soviet grain harvests. In 1940 he became director of the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy in Moscow. He was elected academician of the Belorussian Academy of Sciences in 1940, and of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1946.

Nemchinov was often in political trouble. In 1948, in the struggle with Trofim Lysenko over genetics, he harbored a number of modern geneticists in the Timiryazev Academy and defended them against the Lysenko forces. As a result, he was forced out as Academy director and was even removed from his position in the statistics department. He went home to await arrest, but the Soviet Academy of Sciences stood by him, and he was appointed chairman of a new Council on Productive Forces. He remained an important figure in the Academy, holding, for example, the position of academician-secretary of the department of economic, philosophical, and legal sciences from 1954 to 1958.

The final phase of his career centered on the introduction of mathematical methods into Soviet economics. In 1958, he organized in the Academy of Sciences the first laboratory devoted to the application of mathematical methods in economics, which later became the Central Economic-Mathematical Institute. He was the driving force in setting up the first conference on mathematical methods in economic research and planning in 1960. He headed the scientific council on the use of mathematical methods and computer technology in economic research and planning in the Academy and organized the faculty of mathematical methods of analysis of the economy at Moscow State University. His role in developing linear programming methods and economic models was rewarded posthumously in 1965 by the conferral of the Lenin Prize.

See also: academy of sciences; lysenko, trofim denisovich


Nemchinov, Vasilii. (1964). Use of Mathematics in Economics. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd.

Robert W. Campbell