Vyshnegradsky, Ivan Alekseevich

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(b. Vyshni Volochek, Tver gubernia [now Kalinin oblast], Russia, 20 December 1831; d. St. Petersburg, Russia, 6 April 1895, mechanics, engineering.

The son of a priest, Vyshnegradsky enrolled at the Tver Ecclesiastical Seminary in 1843; but after three years he moved to St. Petersburg and enrolled at the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of the Central Pedagogical Institute, where Otrogradsky’s lectures aroused his interest in mathematics and physics. He graduated in 1851 and began teaching mathematics at the St. Peterburg Military School. Vyshnegradsky received his master’s degree at st. Peterburg University in 1854 and became instructor in mathematics at the Mikhaylovsky Artillery Academy, where he taught special technical courses.

In 1806 the Artillery Academy sent Vyshneegradsky abroad to study mechanical engineering and to prepare for a professorship in applied mechanics. He spent about two years in Germany, France, Belgium, and England. In 1862, upon his return to Russia, he was appointed professor of applied mechanics at the Mikhaylovsky Artillery Academy and, shortly thereafter, professor of mechanics at the St. Petersburg Technological Insstitute as well. Vyshnegradsky was both an outstanding theoretician and a gifted design engineer; he was responsible for the reconstruction of many Artillery Department factories and for the construction of railroads. From 1867 to 1878 he was the mechanics and enginnering specialist of the Central Artillery Administration. In 1875 he was appointed director of the St. Petersburg Technological Institute. Vyshnegradsky was elected an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Science in 1888.

Vuyshnegradsky taught a generation of Russian mechanical engineers and was the head of the first Russian school of mechanical engineering. His students included N. P. Petrov, the founder of the theory of hydraulic friction; V.L. Kirpicheve, engineer and scholar who organized higher technical education in Russia: and A. P. Borodin, who introduced a number of improvements in the steam locomotive. He was named a deputy minister of the Russian Ministry of Finance in 1887 and was minister of finance from 1888 until 1892.

Vyshnegradsky’s most significant scientific contributions were in the theory of automatic regulation. Before him, many scholars had studies the regulation of industrial processes, but the regulators that they developed were created experimentally and were not explained on a theoretical basis. Through his research Vyshnegradsky established the mathematical bases for the general scientific principles of automatic regulation. Prior to his work the machine and the regulator had been examined individually, and only the statics of the regulator had been studied.

In 1877 Vyshnegradsky published “O regulyatorakh pryamogo deystiva” (“On Direct-Action Regulators”), in which the conditions of stability of a steam engine equipped with a direct-action centrifugal regulatior were explained. The stablity condition for a regulating system, as established by Vyshnegradsky, is known in the technical literagreatly influenced subsequent development of the theory of regulation. Published in several land guages, it received great attention in Germany France, and the United Stated.


I. Original Works. Vyshnegradsky’s writings include O dvizhenii sistemy materialnykh tochek, opredelyaemoy polnymi differentsialnymi unravenianmi (“On the Motion of a System of Material Points, Which [System] Is Defined by Complete Differential Equations”; St. Petersburg 1854), his master;s thesis: publichnye populyarnye lektsii o mashinaksh (“Public popular Lectures on Machines”; St. Peterburg, 1859); “Neskolko zamechany o parovykh pressakh” (“Some Remarks on Steam [powered] Presses”), in Artillerysky zhurnal, 4 (1860), 237–259; Mekhanicheskaya teoria teploty (“The Mechnical Theory of Heat”; St. Petersburg, 1873); Lektsii o parovykh mashinaksh, chitannye v Tekhnologichesk institue (“Lectures on Steam Emgines Read at the Technological Institute”; St. Petersburg. 1874); “Sur la theéerie généerle des réegulateurs,” in Comptes rendusde l’Académie des sciences. 83 (1876), 318–312: “Über direktwitkende Reglatoren, rakh proyamogo deystiva” (“On Direct-Action Regulators”). in Izvestiya Peterburgskogo prktichsko teckhnologicheskogo inistitua1 (1887), 21–62; Mémoire sur la theéorie gééerale des réulateurs in Revue universelle des mines … 2nd ser., 4 (1878), 1–38: and 5 (1879), 192–227: and O regulyatorakh nepryamongo deystiva (“On Indirect-Action Regulatiors”: st Petersburg, 1878).

II. Secondary Literatue. See A. A. Andronov, I.A. Vyshnegradsky E ego rol v sozdanii teorii avtomaticheskogo regulirovania (“Vyshnegradsky and His role in the Creations of the Theory of Automatic Regulation” ; Moscow-Leningrad, 1949): A. T.Grigorian, Ocherkistoriil mekhaniki v Rossi (“Essays on the History of Mechanics in Russia” Moscow, 1961), 119–131: and V.L. Kirpicheve, “I. A.Vyvshnegradsky, kak professor i uncheny” (“Vyshnegradsky as Professro and Scholoar”), in Vestnic Obschestva tekhnologv, 6 (1895), 307–322.

A. T. Grigorian