Boris S. Sotskov

Boris S. Sotskov


Thursday, May 21, 1908

Passed away: 

Sunday, November 5, 1972

Boris Sotskov, in full Boris Stepanovich Sotskov, was a well-known researcher, educator, and scientific organizer. He developed a domestic scientific school in the theory and design of automatic and remote control elements as well as the reliability of automation means and computer devices. Sotskov was elected Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Deputy Academician-Secretary of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Control Processes (the USSR Academy of Sciences), Member of the Presidium of the USSR National Committee for Automatic Control, and Chairman of the Components Committee of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC).

Sotskov was born in Tsarskoye Selo near St. Petersburg. After graduating from a 9-year school, he worked as an electrician. Later, he attended a professional training course and became a mechanical engineer of automatic telephone stations. In 1927, Sotskov entered Leningrad Electrotechnical Institute and then moved to the Military Technical Academy of the Red Army by special enrollment. In 1931, he graduated from the Academy; in 1932, he was transferred to the newly organized Military Electrotechnical Academy of the Red Army. Sotskov first headed a laboratory and then worked as a senior lecturer. In 1935, he was conferred Cand. Sci. (Eng.), became Associate Professor, and was appointed Head of the Electrical Automation Department.

After his demobilization in 1938, Sotskov worked at Leningrad Polytechnic Institute. With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, he started R&D works with military applications and was closely involved in the defense of Leningrad.

In 1942, Sotskov was transferred to the Institute of Automation and Remote Control, where he headed Laboratory No. 5. It was established by the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences to counteract the opponent’s contactless underwater weapon.

In the post-war period, Sotskov was Head of the Laboratory and Department of Automation and Remote Control Elements. From 1943 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1960, he was also Deputy Director for Science at the Institute. In 1954, Sotskov defended his doctoral dissertation; in 1955, received a professorship. In 1960, he was elected Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1968, Sotskov headed the Coordinating Scientific Center for measurements and applied metrology problems, established on his initiative at the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences. The Center laid the foundation for many branches of the modern science of measurement and control (including bionics).

Sotskov successfully combined scientific and organizational work with educational activities. He headed the Department of Computer Engineering at Moscow Aviation Institute and delivered lectures at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, All-Union Correspondence Energy Institute, and other higher education institutions. He was an academic supervisor for many candidate’s and doctoral dissertations.

Sotskov took an active part in the R&D works carried out by the Ministry of Instrumentation of the USSR. He was Member of the Scientific and Technical Council of the Ministry of Instrumentation and directly influenced its scientific and technical policy. As Chairman of the Unified Automation Means Section of the Council, Sotskov developed basic regulations for selecting informational, energy-related, and structural parameters, classifying technical means, and determining structural implementation forms. He was engaged in selecting and providing technically and economically rational lines of development in instrumentation and technical means of automation (the conversion of measured natural quantities, data processing and representation, influence on controlled objects, etc.). Also, Sotskov studied the problems of building modular and block structures and complex issues arising in the design and production of elements within the State System of Industrial Automation Equipment (SSE).

Under his guidance, the first complete catalog of basic phenomena and effects was developed for the existing and promising elements and transducers. The catalog provided a new look at the general problem of designing technical means.

Under Sotskov’s initiative and supervision, R&D works on technical means reliability were started in the late 1950s. They were intensified when fulfilling significant orders of the defense sector.

The main line was the development of reliability assessment methods for small-scale, unique, and highly reliable products. In 1971, the Institute became the leading reliability organization in the USSR Ministry of Instrumentation. The Institute was entrusted to coordinate R&D works on reliability carried out by all organizations of the main subsectors of the industry. For many years, significant statistical data on the reliability of various types of automation equipment were collected and processed. As a result, several handbooks and manuals were published on the reliability of devices, instruments, and systems.

Special attention was paid to the so-called “failure physics.” Those researches continued Laboratory’s studies of physical processes causing failures of electrical contact elements. It was a fundamental research area of the Sotskov Laboratory from the day of its establishment. Five All-Union and International Meetings on Electrical Contacts were held. Later, the Laboratory organized four All-Union Meetings on Failure Physics, which considered fundamental physical and chemical processes of technical failures.

On Sotskov’s initiative, research on contactless logic elements was started. As a result, the Laboratory elaborated the theory and design principles of industrial logic elements with various operating principles. It was a serious contribution to the analysis and design methods of logical circuits and finite automata theory.

For the first time in the USSR, general industrial magnetic-semiconductor elements, ELM-50 and ELM-400, and transistor logic and functional elements, Logika T, were designed and serially produced.

Sotskov devoted much time to international cooperation. For example, within the CMEA Committee on Scientific and Technical Cooperation, he coordinated research on Problem 1-15 “Developing the Theory of Automatic Control.” Several international meetings were organized on the general problem and its separate lines (new design principles of technical means and reliability). The participants of the meetings summarized the results, determined promising lines for further research, and planned particular activities for each organization engaged. The main results were published in special proceedings and scientific and technical journals (e.g., Unique Devices, Devices and Control Systems, etc.).

Sotskov headed the Components Committee in the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC).

He was among the pioneers of using nature’s secrets in engineering and stood at the origins of bionics. Jointly with Academicians V.V. Parin and A.I. Berg, Sotskov organized and held the first All-Union Meetings on Bionics to unite the research of biologists, mathematicians, and engineers.

Sotskov was easy to deal with people. He did not like refusing, saying “no.” Sotskov’s office was constantly crowded with people. He tried to help everyone who applied for advice or support.

Sotskov’s main books are as follows:

  1. Elementy i ustroistva sistem upravleniya (Control System Elements and Devices), Moscow: Nauka, 1981. — 208 p.;
  2. Tekhnicheskie sredstva upravleniya i voprosy ikh nadezhnosti (Technical Control Means and Their Reliability), Moscow: Nauka, 1974. — 207 p.;
  3. Osnovy teorii i rascheta nadezhnosti elementov i ustroistv avtomatiki i vychislitel’noi tekhniki (Fundamentals of the Theory and Calculation of Reliability of Automatic Devices and Computing Machines), Moscow: Vysshaya Shkola, 1970. — 270 p.;
  4. Osnovy rascheta i proektirovaniya elektromekhanicheskikh elementov avtomaticheskikh i telemekhanicheskikh ustroistv (Fundamentals of the Calculation and Design of Electromechanical Elements of Automatic and Remote Control Devices), Moscow: Energiya, 1965. — 576 p. This book was translated into many languages;
  5. Elementy avtomaticheskoi i telemekhanicheskoi apparatury (Elements of Automatic and Remote Control Equipment), Moscow: Gosenergoizdat, 1950. — 660 p.; Oborongiz, 1938. — 436 p.

They are presented in the Institute’s database:Сотсков

The list of his papers in Avtomatika i Telemekhanika can be found at:

For their English versions, see the microfilm collection of Automation and Remote Control:

Some inventions by Sotskov are available at:

Articles about B.S. Sotskov

1.  Boris Stepanovich Sotskov (obituary)Avtomat. i Telemekh., 1973, no. 1, 191—192.

Also, see the Wikipedia page devoted to Sotskov:Сотсков,_Борис_Степанович

Scopus Author ID: 6506902290