The Water Integrator (Russian: Гидравлический интегратор) was an early analog computer built in the Soviet Union in 1936 by Vladimir Sergeevich Lukyanov. It functioned by careful manipulation of water through a room full of interconnected pipes and pumps. The water level in various chambers (with precision to fractions of a millimeter) represented stored numbers, and the rate of flow between them represented mathematical operations. This machine was capable of solving inhomogeneous differential equations.
The first versions of Lukyanov's integrators were rather experimental, made of tin and glass tubes, and each integrator could be used to solve only one problem. In the 1930s it was the only computer in the Soviet Union for solving partial differential equations.
In 1941, Lukyanov created a hydraulic integrator of modular design, which made it possible to assemble a machine for solving various problems. Two-dimensional and three-dimensional hydraulic integrators were designed.
In 1949–1955, an integrator in the form of standard unified units was developed at the NIISCHETMASH Institute. In 1955, the Ryazan plant of calculating and analytical machines began the serial production of integrators with the factory brand name “IGL” (russian: Интегратор Гидравлический Лукьянова - integrator of the Lukyanov hydraulic system). Integrators were widely distributed, delivered to Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and China.
A water integrator was used in the design of the Karakum Canal in the 1940s, and the construction of the Baikal–Amur Mainline in the 1970s. Water analog computers were used in the Soviet Union until the 1980s for large-scale modelling. They were used in geology, mine construction, metallurgy, rocket production and other fields.
- Hanly, Ken (1 December 2012). "In 1936 Soviet scientist Lukyanov built an analog water computer". Digital Journal. Archived from the original on 20 June 2018.
- Computing in Russia. The History of Computer Devices and Information Technology revealed, ISBN 3-528-05757-2, from Georg Trogemann, Alexander Y. Nitussov, Wolfgang Ernst, Vieweg, Köln, Jul. 2001, p. 84 ff.
- Electronic Brains: Stories from the Dawn of the Computer Age, ISBN 0-309-09630-8, from Mike Hally, Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, Ch. 8, Water on the Brain, p. 185 ff.
- Genesis Machines. The new science of biocomputing, ISBN 978-1-84354-225-4, from Martyn Amos, Atlantic Books, 2006, Ch. 2., Birth of the Machines, ff.
- MIT water computer
- Translated article from Russian Magazin "Science and Life" about water integrators in the Soviet Union
- Translation of an archived article from O. V. Solovyov on the former webpage of the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow
- Hydraulic Analog Computer Technical Reports. A "collection of technical reports from the USACE (US Army Corps of Engineers) that was written by the Civil and Sanitary Engineering Department at MIT as part of a contract to create a Hydraulic Computer for solving diffusion-type Partial Differential Equations" from 1953