I was born on February 11, 1942, in challenging war times in Alma-Ata. I endured difficulties and deprivations along with my parents, although I do not remember those times. My mother told me there had been periods of malnutrition.

My schooling started in 1949. An interest in natural sciences came at an early age. I especially liked solving math and physics problems. My classmates often faced difficulties in these subjects, so I had to explain them a lot. Pedagogical inclinations thus began to develop, and then they were transformed into my teaching activities. I was also interested in Russian language and literature, thanks not only to the teacher’s talent but to the personality of the one who taught these subjects. As a result, I have acquired higher literacy skills and taste for Russian poetry and prose. I have never liked chemistry and still have no interest in it.

In 1959, right after finishing Alma-Ata secondary school, I had tried to get into a local university, but I was rejected because of near-sightedness. Then I got accepted to the University of Education as there were no restrictions for persons with visual disabilities. I passed all the entrance exams with honors. Study came easily to me. I gave my mother all the merit scholarship money. The class I was enrolled in and which elected me as a class president was incredibly tight-knit. We used to go to the mountains by foot and on skis, go fishing, tutor each other. It was an unforgettable happy time full of hopes and dreams for the future.

My academic achievements were highlighted by professor of mathematical analysis, who recommended me to transfer to newly founded Novosibirsk State University (NSU). I went over there, had an interview and became a physics sophomore on September 1, 1963. One-year reduction was due to a significant difference in programs of two universities. It was almost impossible to eliminate the gap during after-class time. Eminent scientists who had come to Akademgorodok from Moscow and Saint-Petersburg taught at the new university. That's when I realized I had been right to transfer from Alma-Ata University of Education to Novosibirsk State University.

Having graduated with honors in 1967, I was assigned to Theoretical Department of the Institute of Semiconductor Physics as an intern, where I had been working on my thesis project. Meanwhile, it was decided in Moscow to offer all the graduates, who have achieved an honors diploma, to enter a postgraduate program. I was happy about it since internship didn’t attract me much.

I asked Yuri Kulakov to be my academic adviser in grad school. His lectures on analytical mechanics were memorable. He agreed, but right after I had gotten through one tricky problem to assess my ability to conduct research.

Thesis topic, “Complete classification of physical structures of arbitrary rank” was defined on the spot, however, it took me a while to figure out what’s the point of the Theory of Physical Structures (TPhS), the author of which was Kulakov. Having passed the exams, I got some clarity, and the work began to move quickly. By the end of my postgraduate studies in 1970 the thesis had been written, but I succeeded in defending it only in 1974 due to unusual thesis topic and some other circumstances.

Having defended the PhD thesis, I proceeded with the research, which had a huge field of activity, as new interesting challenges were constantly appearing in the TPhS. Some of them were defined and solved by me, the ideas of others arose in conversations with colleagues at the Novosibirsk Institute of Education, where I worked after graduation as a senior lecturer and then, after defending the thesis, as an associate professor. During this period, I maintained scientific communications with NSU and the Institute of Mathematics. Scientific findings and publications gradually accumulated, but the idea of getting a Doctorate didn’t crossed my mind for some reason.

One day, the famous geometry professor, Victor Toponogov, noticed that my scientific works in the aggregate were united by a common idea and it would have been a glaring omission not to put them together in a thesis. This remark inspired me to start working on a doctoral thesis “Group Properties of Physical Structures.” It turned out that the Erlangen program (1872) relates not only to the conventional geometry on a single set, but also to the geometry of two sets, which is any physical structure. In particular, its metric function is a two-point invariant of some group of coordinated transformations of both sets. I was supported in this work by academician Olga Ladyzhenskaya, who was my mentor while I was having 3-month internship at St. Petersburg Department of Steklov Institute of Mathematics (POMI) in 1982. The mathematical results of my researches interested academicians Yuri Reshetnyak and Aleksandr Aleksandrov, as well as professor Abram Fet, who helped me a lot in preparing the thesis for defense, which was held in 1993 at the Sobolev Institute of Mathematics.

Completion of the doctoral thesis and its successful defense allowed me to reflect on fulfilment of my long-cherished dream –– to settle in some “big village” with a university. And Gorno-Altaisk surrounded by mountains, like my hometown, Alma-Ata, was such a village. But if there is a snow-white wall of high mountains propping the city up from the south, then here the mountains are very close, right outside the house, and that’s marvelous. Regular nature walks improve not only physical health but mental as well.

I have been working at Gorno-Altaisk University as a professor of the Department of Physics since 1994. I teach theoretical courses relating to my scientific direction. I continue to work on the recently discovered by me and my students new promising direction of the TPhS – “The Embedding of Physical Structures in Higher-Level Structures.” But now the main and challenging part of the research has gone to my students. I offer some of those problems them as a topic of projects and dissertations. This is research work and therefore is tough enough. “Collecting stones”, I have written and published five monographs on the TPhS. The next is going to be the last one – “Mathematical Foundations and Results of the Theory of Physical Structures“, which might be published in English.

Vladimir Kyrov, a graduate of our university, has written his graduate work on TPhS. During postgraduate studies he wrote the PhD thesis on “The Helmholtz plane and differential geometry of two-dimensional Helmholtz manifolds” and successfully defended it in 2005. Another my post-graduate student, Roman Muradov is going to defend his thesis. So every student has a perspective of creative work. Where there are a will and the ability, there's a way.

I stick to a healthy lifestyle. I have never smoked and let myself drink a glass of wine on holidays among with my friends and colleagues. I regularly cleanse the body, conducting 10-days fasts on Paul Bragg 6 times a year, to strengthen physical and mental health. I have an experience of a month's fast. I don't have health problems in my 70s. I was only once at the hospital after a long swim in a mountain river.

I believe that the meaning of life is to find yourself in it. It was a lot easier to do it earlier, because there were fewer opportunities. Nowadays, it’s harder, as there are much more choices. But in any case, high-level university education would help anyone to go through life more successfully. In any case, I still feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, thanks to an honors degree. And even tough time of perestroika didn’t mess me up.

My wife, Natalia Vladimirovna, is a philologist. So, we have both physicists and poets in our family. Sons, Ilya and Victor live in Novosibirsk. One of them is programmer, the second is a businessman. Both are quite successful, each is doing the work they are best at, that generates income exceeding my salary as a university professor. But money is not the only measure of value in life. Health, love, mutual understanding are the basic values of life, that constitute happiness you cannot buy.

That is pretty much all that I have to say about myself. I could have written more and in more detail, if it had been the genre of memoirs.

October 2010

Gennady G. Mikhailichenko