Olena Temnikova

Born 18 September 1962 in Sevastopol. Graduated from the regular Kyiv school 29, where, due to the efforts of the great mathematician and teacher Yevhen Halitsiian, a strong math class was created. Therefore, I became a programmer already at the school. We practiced on the Mir-2 computer. In 1985, I graduated from the Applied Mathematics Department (AMD) in KPI with honors, and remained at the institute. I returned to my native department as a lecturer in 1997.

What courses do you teach?

“Discrete Mathematics,” “Mathematical Logic and Theory of Algorithms,” “Artificial Intelligence Methods,” “Data Mining.”

Tell us please about your hobbies.

Actually, I love to travel, visit new countries, new cities. This allows you to learn about distant lands many things you simply cannot find in a guidebook.

From each journey, we bring souvenir bells. We have already collected a fairly large total of about 300 pieces. This collection features many bells of interesting shapes, made of various materials—metal, ceramics, and even such rare ones as willow or wood.

A long time ago, I would often go camping. I love my native Crimea—there you may find sights for every taste. Vacation in Crimea is always full of fun.

As for my “home” hobby, I try to get out to the theatre more often, which is not always quite possible. I prefer classic opera and ballet performances. Also, I enjoy visiting various exhibitions.

Imagine all music, movies, and books have all gone in one day, and you've got an opportunity to save one instance of each book, movie, and music album. What would you save?

It’s quite hard to imagine such a situation. Well, there are some movies that I gladly review several times, favorite authors… However, I’m not that categorical so as to choose something in particular. We will create something new.

Did you experience something in your life that radically changed it? If you did, what was that?

Well I think I could name the birth of my son. A completely different level of responsibility enters your life, the priorities change, and you suddenly begin to understand your parents.

Has something changed in your life after the Soviet Union’s collapse?

It’s hard to say what has changed, because everything comes and goes. What our lives would have become if there were some other scenario, we can only guess.

Before, life was more predictable. Now, due to many more possibilities, people have a choice and, consequently, it becomes necessary to make decisions for themselves. However, not everyone is capable of that. Numbers of young people get lost; they cannot find their place in life.

The collapse of the USSR has brought many great (and not always good) changes to what used to be a peaceful life. However, there have emerged much more opportunities, especially for strong, intelligent, dynamic young men and women. For instance, studying abroad, new interesting majors, participation in different projects. However, all of this seems to be related not to the disintegration of the USSR, but to the progress and development of the society.

There are more opportunities nowadays, but not all of young people can find a job, a profession they like most.

Generally speaking, no disasters should disturb your inner world (at least, I wish so). As Chateaubriand said, “If I still had faith in happiness, I’d seek it in the monotony of everyday life habits.”

Do you regret expelling students?

Yes, I do. I believe this is a major blow to a person, even if this person does not quite realize that at the time.

How do you feel about the fact that some re-enter the same department?

It seems to me that people, who come back to the department they had been expelled from, make a mistake. You cannot step twice into the same rivers. Either it is not your path, or you’re just too lazy and irresponsible to get yourself expelled. To return to the place with the spoiled reputation, where everything reminds of failures… It seems I cannot recall a student who would re-enter the department and start studying better than before.

It is often said that, earlier, students were better than nowadays. How do you feel about this opinion? Is it true that in our country the quality of education gets worse with every year?

Level of what I call education, was, of course, higher back in the days. However, today youth possesses some knowledge unfamiliar to previous generations. The expansion of the information field and the availability of many things have changed the way of thinking. In my opinion, people lost the ability to analyze, to perform elementary reasoning. The general cultural level of young people has significantly decreased. You can hardly encounter proactive thinking, creativity. Everything is filled with narrow-mindedness. Sometimes, ignorance of basic things, poverty of thought—it really shocks.

Can you give us a clear example of the changes you’re talking about?

Well, for instance, earlier, in order to prepare for an exam, a student took a book in the library and wrote out some necessary things. Therefore, in order not to rewrite the entire volume, the text had to be carefully read, understood, analyzed, highlighted; some notes had to be taken. And now, a couple of words written in a search engine gives you a ready answer on the screen. Information is available, but no one passes it through herself, because it’s always “by the hand.”

 “Live and learn.” What have you recently learned or found out?

Basically, people who think are always in the process of learning and perceiving something new. If you approach everything you do with interest, you have to update your lecture notes, saturate your classes with new tasks and examples. Also, I always thoroughly prepare my trips. I choose routes, study maps.

They say that active and curious people live a longer and happier life. That’s what I wish all of you.