Cleaning out my office I came across some old SIGACT News that Bill
Gear had given me when he cleaned out his office after his
retirement. The Winter 1982 edition is quite interesting. I was a
freshman in college that year, well before I was part of the theory
There are some interesting technical articles that I will get to in
future posts. But the first two pages were letters to the editor that
are chilling reminders of the cold war during that time.
On page two was the following short note from Witold Lipski, Jr. and
Antoni Mazurkiewicz from the Polish Academy of Sciences.
We are very sorry to inform you that due to the situation in Poland we
do not see any chance to organize our 1982 Conference on Mathematical
Foundations of Computer Science.
MFCS started in 1972 as an annual
conference rotating between Poland and Czechoslovakia, and now between
Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. There was no conferences in
1982 or 1983 and the conference did not return to Poland
Talking about the Czechs, there was a much longer letter on page one from
James Thatcher of IBM. Here are some excerpts.
On a recent trip to Europe, I visited Prague and had the pleasure of
talking with Dr. Ivan M. Havel who is a friend and colleague of many
years. Ivan Havel received his Ph.D. in CS from Berkeley in
1971. He joined the Institute for Applied Computer Technology in
Prague in 1972 and then in 1974 became a member of the Czechoslovakian
Academy of Sciences, in the Institute of Information Theory and
Ivan's brother, Vaclav Havel, an internationally known playwright, was
imprisoned in 1979 for four and a half years for his activities in
connection with the Charter 1977 movement.
In 1980, possibly related to his refusal to denounce his brother, Ivan
Havel was removed from his position in the Academy of Sciences and was
unemployed for several months. Last May, he and Vaclav's wife were
arrested and charged with "subversion" for allegedly
"collecting and distributing written material oriented against
the socialist state and social establishment, with hostile
intentions." After four days detention, they were released.
He is employed as a programmer-analyst by META, a home-worker
program for the handicapped.
Ivan Havel remained a
programmer until after the
1989. After some political work in 1990, he became a docent (associate
professor) at Charles University and director of the Center for
Theoretical Study where he remains today.
His brother Vaclav
went on to become president of the Czech Republic.