Grisha Mints‎ > ‎

Words from friends

. . .   It is hard to believe that Grisha is gone. I first met him at the Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science Congress in 1987 in Moscow.  At that meeting, he continuously and brilliantly translated from Russian to English and English to Russian, until his voice gave out.  His unstinting dedication to mathematical truth and beauty has been a great source of inspiration to many people.  It still brings tears to my eyes to recall Grisha's speech at his
70th birthday celebration in which he calmly chronicled his struggles.   Through all his travails, he somehow managed to retained his hope, optimism, and sense of humor.  It was a privilege for us at SRI to host him during his recent sabbatical.
        He was an uncommonly great human being who will be dearly missed.

Natarajan Shankar, SRI International

. . .I have appreciated Grisha greatly ever since he came to Stanford, and Vera and I have also been very happy for our friendship with the two of you and the many evenings at your house.   
       As you know, Grisha was a great boost to logic at Stanford.  When we arrived at Stanford in the sixties it had its great period, with Sol Feferman, Dana Scott and Georg Kreisel, but the departure of Dana and the retirement of Georg were a great blow to the Department.  For many years, Sol was the only great attraction in logic at Stanford, if we shall not count Paul Cohen, who only his late years returned to teaching a course in set theory.  The change when Grisha came was therefore radical, and he and Sol made Stanford a world center for research and teaching of logic, in particular proof theory. 
        Grisha was very kind and generous both to his students and to his colleagues.  Everybody felt well in his company, and his very broad interests outside of logic contributed to this:  I remember well one time Vera and I had been to see a performance of Gogol's "The Government Inspector" at Stanford.  You had also been to see it, and we learned a lot from Grisha's comments on the play, its setting and motivation and also about subtleties in the original Russian that had been missed in the translation.

Dagfinn Follesdal, University of Oslo

. . .Grisha's untimely passing has been a great loss for me, especially due to how unexpected it was. He is the first person close to me to pass away in my life. He was a mentor to me, and I will cherish the guidance and advice he was always happy to provide.
        Since my freshman year, both Sol Feferman and Grisha have been instrumental to my life here at Stanford, and the logic seminar has been a home to me ever since. The seminar will certainly not be the same without him.

Aran Nayebi, Stanford University

. . .I learned of Grisha's recent passing with great sadness - he was a major figure in our field, and will be sorely missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have known (and been influenced by) him.

Stanley Wainer, University of Leeds

. . . Grigori Efroimovich meant to me a lot - in fact, I realized today that
he meant to me as much as some of my own relatives. Now that he is gone
it turned out to be almost an existential blow. Not only will I be
remembering him forever, but also all of my own humble future work
 will be in some way or another dedicated to him.

Mints is gone,
Tarski won't rise to scribble on a blackboard,
Gödel in Princeton is not going to produce a new theorem,
Can we still hear the roaring of eternity beyond this earthly realm?

Grigory Olkhovikov, Ural Federal University, Russia

. . . Like Grigory Olkhovikov I only realized last week the huge influence Grisha had on me and how much I will miss him. How helpful and kind-hearted he always was, all the while pretending that he was a hard to please Russian professor. I will never forget the way he helped  me when I really needed help. When I heard the bad news I looked over years and years of email messages with plans and  suggestions that we won't have time to complete now. It made me really sad that I didn't thank him enough.

Valeria de Paiva

 . . .  My name is J.T., and I'm a third-year PhD student here at Stanford. I worked with Grisha on my "qualifying paper" this last year. Despite so many differences between us, I came to feel very close to him during my time here at Stanford and especially during the time he helped me with this paper. Much of this occurred through my observation of his subtle ways. Though you and I haven't met, I have been, and continue to be, sincerely sorry for your loss as I reflect on his hilarious personality, his intellect, and, perhaps most of all, his kindness.

The last time Grisha and I met in his office, before his trip to Russia, he showed me a book written in Russian on his shelf (English title is "Foundations of Set Theory"). The English version of this book, written by the famous set theorist Abraham Fraenkel and his student Y. Bar-Hillel, was a bit of a discovery for me in my project. Many of the themes the authors endorse in the concluding section, which advise a conservative attitude toward philosophical speculation on the foundations of mathematics, I felt a kinship with. In fact, the book formed the basis of my qualifying paper and will be the basis of my dissertation.

The Russian translation of the book, he told me, was one of the *very* few books translated from English into Russian about Western mathematical logic from the 1950s and 1960s (I believe he said there were only a handful of such books that the Soviets allowed to be translated and disseminated). Hence, the book meant a lot to him academically as it was one of the very few resources the Soviets would allow from what was, at the time, a massively burgeoning field in Western countries. This story was quite poignant to me---knowing Grisha and how gentle and intellectually honest he was, it was unpleasant for me to think about how the Soviets stymied even this very apolitical type of research. But the fact that one of the few such books that "got through" to researchers over there at the time was coincidentally also very important to me in such a radically different context meant a whole lot to me. Equally meaningful to me was that Grisha had taken note of this and shared the story with me---just one example of his subtlety and kindness.

My father was recently here visiting and, as we walked past the window of Grisha's office, I told him the story above. He suggested that I get in contact with someone about this book because it meant a lot to me, and it (in all likelihood) was not of very much sentimental value. My dad's suggestion made sense but, all the same, I was unsure how to tactfully approach the situation. Clearly, if this book has sentimental value to you, I wouldn't dream of asking for it as a keepsake to remember Grisha by. But if it were going to be discarded, I wanted to ask you if I might have it so I could remember that conversation throughout my years. Regardless of your thoughts on this, I wanted to share this memory with you to add to the countless others that you remember him warmly by.

 J.T. Chipman, Stanford University

. . . Oчень очень жаль. Я всегда вспоминаю наши добрые встречи в Таллине и Пало Альто.
        Гриша был светлый человек.

Max Kanovich, Queen Mary University of London

. . .It is difficult to believe that Grisha is not with us anymore and we will not to be able to enjoy his company.  He was an amazing  warm-hearted person.
    Мы редко встречались и может быть поэтому мы так хорошо помним эти встречи, особенно Гришин голос и его особые интонации. И будем их помнить всегда.

Lucy and Vadim Kotov, HP Labs

. . . The news of Grisha's death hurts a lot.
        A tie between us was the fact that my first published paper on Herbrand's theorem for LK and LJ, which I wrote under Dag Prawitz's supervision in 1979, was a rediscovery of a result published in Russia by Mints about 10 years earlier.
At my arrival in Stanford in 1980 I was informed of Grisha's result by Georg Kreisel, who had written a review of my paper in which he sharply criticized the entire project of finding intuitionistic analogues of classical results.
        Grisha's response to my paper was kind, very precise in detailing what he had done. He refrained from pointing out the limits of my first attempt but critical of a comment in footnote, true then of our little group friends in Padua, that we were studying logic in sort of academic underground. [He was right, of course. Eventually, almost all of us found a comfortable accommodation within the system, especially those who chose to stay near to Padua, and gave valuable contributions.
        An important way to learn lessons from great scholars is by thinking at their style. Grisha's lesson is a difficult one to learn. During my occasional visits to Stanford in the last 25 years I always found him willing to talk, to listen and to correspond. But his capacity to listen was the result of a work discipline
that allowed him to write "literally thousands of reviews" as Lanier Anderson recalls in his announcement: hard to match that.
    He was a master of understatement. Well-aware of his technical strength, he stayed away entirely from buzz words, knowing that to understand the significance of a result one has to dig into the content and think hard: descriptions of intentions won't do. To a philosophical question he might have responded with a puzzle.
        Once I asked Grisha how to interpret one of Kreisel's sayings. Kreisel told in class of one of his conversations with Wittgenstein, when W. explained him the notion of "family resemblance" [namely, a similarity that cannot be determined as a set of properties shared by all the members of a kind, as in the case of the family of language games]. Kreisel replied to W: "If you are looking for something as trivial as the notion of a metric space, you will find it everywhere".
Then W. became very angry and said only "I tried to teach you something".
So I asked Grisha why did Kreisel bring in metric spaces and why W. got angry at K's mathematical example. Grisha responded: "You should not over-interpret. This is like a Zen story".
       This year, teaching logic in Verona, I tried to use "A Short Introduction to Intuitionistic Logic as a reference text for intuitionism and realized that there were many more subtleties to be thought of carefully in that unpretentiously presented book than what one finds in a reference text. "One device for making this book short was inventing new proofs of several theorems" is written in the cover.
        I have a draft of a message which was never sent to him. It is part of a sequence of exchangers in which we were trying to clarify an ill-posed question of mine. In a way this is typical of Grisha as a teacher: he was ready to relate with rigour and kindness to others, to help them to reach eventually the same rigorous style of communication.
       I'll miss him a lot.
Gianluigi BellinUniversity of Verona

. . . It is an awful loss, from a personal point of view and scientifically. We all profited a lot from Grisha's warm and open personality and, of course, from his deep scientific knowledge. He was unique in the breadth of his knowledge and always a person willing to help and provide his advice.

Gerhard Jaeger, University of Bern

. . . During my two years at Stanford, Grisha Mints was extraordinarily generous. He wasn't only a brilliant and kind senior colleague: he made a point of taking me under his wing and engaging me intellectually, inviting me to join him in his research projects. For him, it went without saying that senior colleagues would welcome junior colleagues in this way. I am extremely grateful for his mentorship, which helped me transition from grad student to professional logician, and was a central part of my intellectual development. But this is not all. Grisha and Marianna were good friends to me and my then wife, as we settled into our new environment. He also told me my favorite joke, which I often repeat, about simple Ivan and the magic fish.
Philip Kremer, University of Toronto

. . . Grisha's influence on my own life, both intellectual and personal, was profound. Without him, neither Estonia nor Stanford would exist in my life
Sergey Tupailo, Tallinna TehnikaÜlikool

. . .This is truly devastating news; I'd come to know and love Grisha, particularly 
through solidarity (advocating logic, maths, phil physics) we developed working together on graduate admissions.

Thomas Ryckman, Stanford University

. . .He was a very good host when I was in Stanford 

Fernando Ferreira, University of Lisbon

. . .I was very fond of Grisha and will miss him tremendously.

Michael Friedman, Stanford University

. . . Words cannot express my sadness. Grisha was always such a pleasure to be with, 
and he has had such a positive influence on me, not just through his work, 
but with his warmth and kindness and sense of humor. I will miss him.
        In 1998, just a few years out of graduate school, I gave a talk at Oberwolfach, in which I discussed a very important and fundamental theorem of proof theory that was discovered by Grisha, Charles Parsons, and Gaisi Takeuti independently. I made the mistake, however, of referring to the theorem as "Parsons' theorem," even though Parsons was the only one of the three *not* in the audience!
        Many mathematicians would have been very insulted by this, and almost every one I know would have at least pointed out the error. Grisha did no such thing. In fact, the entire week of the meeting, he asked me questions about the work, offered encouraging suggestions, and told stories and jokes with his usual playful smile. I did not realize until a week or two later, when I was reviewing my slides, that I had made the mistake.
        That says a lot about Grisha's personality. He did not seem to care so much about taking credit for all his wonderful contributions to proof theory. What he cared about most was enjoying mathematics, and enjoying life, and sharing that enjoyment with others.
        As I said before, he will be missed.

Jeremy Avigad, Carnegie Mellon University

. . .Grisha's death is a terrible loss for the community of Proof theorist's and very saddening for me personally as he was a such a good and loyal friend.
        I saw Grisha last in November 2013 when I came to Stanford for a week. During that time we met almost every day and had lively discussions in Grisha's office, during
 the three talks I gave and when we walked about the Stanford campus. Grisha was
very charming and full of energy. It would never have dawned on me that this would be the last time I saw him.

Michael Rathjen, University of Leeds

. . .Mы потрясены известием о кончине нашего дорого друга, Гриши.
 Вспоминаем сейчас многие встречи, долгие беседы в России и здесь. 
Внезапные Гришины визиты к нам, когда он звонил с вокзала и говорил, 
что едет дневным поездом. Мы готовили комнату и пишущую машинку.
 Гриша занимался математикой всегда. Я (Борис) впервые встретил Гришу
 на первом Тракайском симпозиуме в 1964 году. Нашей дружбе - полвека.
        Основную черту Гриши, как человека, Вы определили, выступая на его юбилее, одним словом: noble. Точнее сказать о нём нельзя.

Marina and Boris Kushner, University of Pittsburgh

. . .We deeply mourn an untimely death of our dearest friend, Grisha Mints. We met with Grisha when all of us entered the St. Petersburg State University and we were close friends ever since. Grisha was a  kind and a loyal friend, and you could always rely on his kindness and help in case of need. Grisha was a brilliant mathematician, he was very generous with his time, and it was always a pleasure to talk with him about mathematics even if we happen to be working in different fields of mathematics. We would like to express our deepest condolences to Grisha’s entire family. A loving memory of Grisha will live forever in our hearts.

Vera Sapozhnikova, Misha Anolik, and Grisha Listvinsky

. . . We both met Grisha the first time during our stay in Berkeley in 1989/90 and
since then at several opportunities in several countries. We vividly remember
his last visit to Münster on the occasion of Wolfram's retirement.
For Wolfram he has always been a helpful and inspiring colleague, full of
ideas and always ready to help be it for a letter of recommendation for a
student or refereeing a paper. His death is a big loss for proof theory and
mathematical logic as a whole.

Renate and Wolfram Pohlers, University of Münster

. . .I had the privilege of knowing Grisha for many years and benefitted greatly from his lively interest in my work. By his untimely death our profession has lost one of its most distinguished exponents.

Wilfried Buchholz, LMU München

. . . Grisha combined great intellectual intensity and seemingly boundless energy with a
captivating sense of fun and a gift for illuminating historical analogies and connections.
All of us will miss his ready, twinkling smile in the Department Lounge and his energetic
presence in department life. His passing is a great intellectual loss to our community, as
well as a personal one that will be felt by all his colleagues and students at Stanford. A
public memorial event for Stanford colleagues is planned for the Fall.

Lanier Anderson, Stanford University

. . .Grisha was a patient, kind teacher with an obvious 
enthusiasm for his subject.  Even though I was amazingly out of my 
depth, I enjoyed every minute of his class.

David McMath, Redbird Advanced Learning

. . .Гриша был таким замечательным человеком. В моей жизни он сыграл огромную роль. Я всегда буду его помнить.

Alexander Volberg, Michigan State University

. . .He was very special to all of us, and we will always keep a very fond memory of him.
Ruy de Queiroz, Federal University of Pernambuco

. . . That is indeed a devastating loss. Apart from Grisha's world-class contributions to math and logic, I also knew him as a very kind, friendly, and generous man.
Be it the US, Japan, Europe, or Russia, I have always met people who spoke fondly of him, both for his remarkable energy (like in writing reviews or answering questions patiently), or trying to help people's academic careers move forward.  

Sam Sanders, University of Ghent

. . .Весьма печальное сообщение.  Григорий обладал блестящей аргументацией и глубоким знанием в своей области
Revaz Grigolia

. . . Not only did I always admire Grisha as a model scholar and one of the
great men of logic, whose research work has played an important role in my
own development, but I will also forever be grateful to him for the great
support he always gave me, in particular when I needed it most.
This e.g. was the case when he (as member of the PC) had me nominated as
invited plenary speaker at the 1996 European Logic Colloquium in San Sebastian, the year I found myself in the summer without a job. To have in this situation the support of such a leading scholar was a great boost for me to try to continue my career.
        I think I met Grisha around first 1989-1990 when he could travel to
Germany for the first time. Around that time my teacher Horst Luckhardt
invited him to Frankfurt and there was a dinner party at Luckhardt's home
held in honor of Grisha which I still vividly recall.   After that we met
regularly at Oberwolfach. In 1998 I had the opportunity to invite Grisha
to Aarhus where I organized a special semester on logic.
        Our contact much intensified when he suggested to organize a 4 months
trimester on proof theory at the Max-Planck-Institute of Mathematics in
Bonn (together with Boris Moroz) which was realized in 2007 where shared
an office for several months.
        I felt deeply honored when Grisha invited me for a longer visit to
Stanford in 2008 (using a donation he had received to support logic at

Ulrich Kohlenbach, Technische Universität Darmstadt

. . . С грустью узнал о смерти Гриши. Я вспоминаю симпозиум по логическому выводу в Тракае, где я впервые увидел Гришу. Своей скромностью и мягкостью он выделялся среди всей ленинградской команды логиков.

Саша Подрабинович. Москва

. . . I really enjoyed knowing Grisha and will miss his gentle smile and his creative way of convincing me how interesting logic really was. We will all really miss him.

Robin Wedell, Cardiac Therapy Foundation

Глубоко скорбим в связи с кончиной нашего дорогого друга Григория Ефроимовича Минца, чьи научные достижения и глубоко оригинальные идеи всегда оказывали и продолжают оказывать большое и во многом решающее влияние на развитие математической логики в нашей республике, чью помощь в научных и организационных вопросах была незаменимой и столь часто позволяла нам преодолевать трудности, которыми так богата наша научная жизнь, чье человеческое обаяние и бескорыстная преданность науке всегда были и остаются для нас вдохновляющим примером служения науке и людям, что так полно воплощал в себе наш друг Григорий Ефроимович Минц.

О имени матлогиков Армении

Заславский И.Д.
Манукян С.Н.
Маранджян Г.Б.
Погосян Э. М.
Саркисян Г.З.
Саркисян О.А.
Тер-Захарян Н.П.
Хачатрян М.А.
Чубарян А.А.

. . . Гриша был замечательным человеком...
Irina Stukalova

. . . Grisha was a good scientist and a man of principle.
S.S.Kutateladze, Novosibirsk

. . .I have to admit, although I didn't know Grisha too well, I'll never forget his festschrift, which made a huge impression on me.  And, of course, his sense of humor.  Only after leaving Stanford did I realize just how lucky I was to be surrounded by such a rich logic community - there's been nowhere near as much at any of 
the other universities I've spent time at. 
Alistair Isaac, University of Edinburgh 

 . . . Mы с прискорбием узнали об уходе из жизни Григория Ефраимовича и выражаем Вам
свои глубокие соболезнования.  Мы знали и ценили его не только как одного из выдающихся 
математиков и логиков, но и как человека, обладающего  широкой  эрудицией и  глубокими философскими знаниями, как человека с твердыми убеждениями, которые он отстаивал
в самые трудные времена. Мы не часто встречались лично, но благодарны судьбе, 
подарившей нам эти встречи.  Мы всегда знали, что можем рассчитывать на понимание и поддержку Григория Ефраимовича в самых разных обстоятельствах и ситуациях. Его уход мы ощущаем как большую потерю близкого по духу человека.
Миши и Рика Дехтяри,
Альбина Тайцлина,
Марс Валиев.

. . .Когда знакомишься с новым человеком, то какие-то качества замечаешь сразу, а что-то открываешь для себя только при более близком общении.  Первое что мы сразу увидели, а вернее почувстовали в Грише, это та необыкновенная добрая и положительная энергия которую он излучал.  Он просто был окутан какой-то замечательной светлой аурой которая внушала доверие "с первого взгляда".   Вначале мы просто познакомились с хорошим мужиком, открытым, дружелюбным и задающим много интересных вопросов.  И только позже мы узнали, что общаемся со звездой мировой величины, крупнейшим учёным и исследоваталем.  Имея огромный вес в научном мире и работая со сложнейшими концепциями, в персональном общении он оставался лёгким и простым человеком.  Очень жаль что его больше нет, мы скорбим о его безвременной смерти.  Пусть земля ему будет пухом.

Лена и Миша Талис

The following text is published in

Светлая память
Григорий Эфраимович Минц

29 мая умер Григорий Эфраимович Минц, профессор математики и философии Стенфордского университета с 1991 года.

Григорий Эфраимович был известным специалистом в области математической логики, членом ленинградской школы логиков, работавших в Ленинградском отделении Математического института им. В.А. Стеклова (ЛОМИ). В 80-е годы он начал активно продвигать использование логики в программировании и искусственном интеллекте (см. его переписку с Андреем Петровичем Ершовым в архиве (link is external)).

В 80-е годы он переехал в Таллин, где в Институте кибернетики работал с Энном Харальдовичем Тыугу (link is external) в области семантики декларативных языков программирования и синтеза программ. Григорий Эфраимович участвовал в разработке системы программирования ПРИЗ, которая стала одним из основных продуктов Временного научно-технического коллектива "СТАРТ".

Григорий Эфраимович ("Гриша") был разносторонне образованным человеком, общительным и отзывчивым. Он всегда улыбался. Его любили все.

Руководитель ВНТК СТАРТ В.Е. Котов