The "Moisil and Followers" Book

The official presentation of the book "Grigore C. Moisil and His Followers in the Field of Theoretical Computer Science" took place on Jan 10, 2008, at the Library of the Romanian Academy (as I have related in a previous post). Here I want to write a few words about this special book.

What is this book about?

First of all it is a homage to Grigore C. Moisil and his research, written by his relatives, his students, the students of his students, and, mainly, by researchers who found inspiration in his work. The book contains memorable pages evoking the image of Grigore Moisil, written by Viorica Moisil (Moisil's wife), by Ioana Moisil (one of his nieces), by Zoe Petre (another niece), but also by Constantin Noica, Arto Salomaa, Solomon Marcus, Lotfi Zadeh, Sergiu Rudeanu, Dragos Vaida, Victor Toma, and others. Grouped in the first part of the book, these contributions are completed by several articles presenting the development of the initial ideas of Moisil in nowadays computer science. I give here their titles: Some Romanian researchers in the algebra of logic (G. Georgescu, A. Iorgulescu, S. Rudeanu), Gr. C. Moisil and the algebraic theory of switching circuits (S. Rudeanu, in Romanian, with an abstract in English), Grigore C. Moisil: a computer pioneer in Romania (D. Vaida, in Romanian), Mathematical and comutational linguistics and poetics (S. Marcus), DNA and membrane computing. A glimpse to Romanian contribution (V. Mitrana and G. Paun), Automata and formal language theory. More than 40 years of Romanian contribution (V. Mitrana and G. Paun). Last but not least, this part contains also an article written by Moisil in 1970 about the Computing Center of the University of Bucharest.

The second part of the book is basically a Who is Who in Romanian Theoretical Computer Science. Over 60 Romanian researchers wrote short papers about their work in this field. Some of them showed how their work relates, or finds its roots, in the ideas of Moisil, while other simply list their results. Far from being complete (some researchers didn't submit their contributions in time to be included in the volume, some were unfortunately omitted) this part of the volume represents, certainly, a valuable resource. It was interesting to learn what are the research interests of other Romanian computer scientists, what important results were obtained by them, what are the new trends in theoretical computer science, as seen by Romanian theorists, and, nevertheless, how the ideas of Moisil still find applications in their works, and how they developed these ideas. In this part, there are also several short contributions, written by non-mathematicians, on the way Moisil popularized math and computer science in different environments.

As an interesting fact, the book appeared at the Publishing House of the Romanian Academy in 2007, in the year that marks 50 years from the building of the first computer in Romania.

The presentation of the book was another success. The speakers (Viorica Moisil, Ion Haiduc -president of the Romanian Academy-, Mircea Malita, Solomon Marcus, Dragos Vaida, Sergiu Rudeanu, and others) were able to describe the impact the works and the personality of Moisil had on Romanian Theoretical Computer Science, and, nevertheless, on the Romanian society of his time.

In conclusion, "Grigore C. Moisil and His Followers in the Field of Theoretical Computer Science" is a great book, and had a great official presentation. Many congratulations to the editors for having the idea of such a book, and for making this idea come alive.

I will end this post with a few (amusing) subjective facts I discovered in the book:
- I found out that there are many Romanian TCS researchers that graduated the same high-school as I did (Informatics High-School in Bucharest, a.k.a. Computer Science National College "Tudor Vianu"). Also, most of the contributors graduated and received their PhD from Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Bucharest.
- As far as I have observed, and I was told by my older colleagues, some of the journals preferred by Romanian researchers (or at least researchers from Romanian Universities) to publish their important works are: Theoretical Computer Science, Discrete Applied Mathematics, Information Processing Letters and International Journal of Computer Mathematics. This volume only offered a confirmation of this fact. I am glad that I have published at least one paper in each of these journals.
- My name was cited in four of the contributions in this book (in other articles than my own): in the survey on Romanian contribution to formal languages theory, in the survey on bio-inspired computing (where my PhD thesis is cited for the first time), and in the contributions of Radu Gramatovici and Liviu Dinu.
- Grigore Rosu claims he is a nephew of Moisil (in a scientific sense). Then I am a nephew of a nephew of Moisil, if you consider the following list, defined by the mentor -> disciple relation: Moisil -> Marcus -> Paun -> Mitrana -> Manea. By the way, how about computing a Moisil number (like the Erdős number)?