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Campus News
     
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: June 23, 2003
Volume 38, Number 22

Poet, mathematician survives political refugee camp, thrives at UNM-Gallup

By Linda Thornton

Smarandache is well known in the mathematics world as the creator of neutrosophic logic, similar to fuzzy logic.

Coming of age in Communist Romania, Florentin Smarandache endured many hardships. Poet, writer and mathematician, Smarandache was denied the right to publish his work and forced to smuggle his manuscripts out of the country. In 1986, after he criticized the Communist party, he was refused a passport and denied permission to attend an international mathematicians’ congress at Berkeley. He launched a hunger strike in protest, at which time the government denied him the opportunity to work.


“It was very depressing. I didn’t know how long I would have to be there.”

Smarandache about time spent in a Turkish political refugee camp


And, as he would find out many years later, the repressive regime began to shadow him.

Finally, in 1988, he escaped from Romania, leaving behind his pregnant wife, his son and his parents. He first went to Bulgaria, then on to a ship to Turkey. In Turkey he sought help from the American consulate and was sent to live two years in a political refugee camp in Turkey before finding his way to the United States, where his family later joined him.

“It was very depressing,” he said of the time in the refugee camp, noting that uncharacteristically, he wrote little during those two years. “I didn’t know how long I would have to be there.”

Today, as an associate professor of mathematics at UNM-Gallup, Smarandache is making the most of his freedom. He has authored, co-authored and edited 57 books—mostly in Romanian, although he has also ventured into English composition in the last few years. He contributes to more than 100 literary and 50 scientific journals. Many of his literary works are found on a website, http://www.gallup.unm.edu/~smarandache/, which he also uses as an international forum for the exchange of ideas.

Smarandache is also well known in the mathematics world as the creator of neutrosophic logic. It’s similar to the better-known “fuzzy logic.” Fuzzy logic, the processing of uncertain information, is the opposite of the “crisp” logic of Aristotle and Pythagoras, which defines everything in precise, numerical values—“fuzzy logic” is said to better reflect reality. Neutrosophy, says Smarandache, goes fuzzy logic one better by explaining paradoxes, which fuzzy logic does not.

“The processing of uncertain information has been a hot topic of research since the 18th century,” says Smarandache. “During the second half of the 20th century, several new and interesting mathematical theories have emerged in parallel with the development of computer science and technology in order to combine many types of information.” Smarandache sees information fusion as a way to combine such diverse information in different applications, and find ways to use them in the defense industry, among others.

To that end, Smarandache is co-chair of the International Conference on Applications of Plausible, Paradoxical and Neutrosophic Reasoning for Information Fusion. The conference is set for July 8-11 in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. (e-mail smarand@unm.edu for more information.)

Coincidentally, Smarandache is also the foremost proponent of “Paradoxism,” an avant-garde movement that makes connections between literature, philosophy, art and science.

As a man who has known life without liberty, Smarandache treasures his current freedom. “My intense productivity in America is in compensation for my hard time in Romania,” he says, adding, “Vive la liberté!”