Oscar Zarissky. The ingenious mathematician from Kobrin

Nature mother! when such people
You sometimes did not send to the world,
The life field would decay …

Nikolay Nekrasov

Oscar Zarissky, 1966.

On April 24, 1899 in the small provincial town of Kobrin which at that time was part of the Russian Empire (nowadays Belarus) in a family Betsalel Zaritskogo and Khans Tennenbaum was born the boy who was named Osher. He was fated to become one of the most ingenious and famous mathematicians of the world. His father, the teacher of the Talmud, died when the child was only two years old. Mother had to support one seven children. She owned shop, and processed the case so successfully that soon the family became one of the richest in Kobrin.

When World War I approached Kobrin, Osher Zaritsky and his brother ran to the Ukrainian Chernihiv where its mathematical abilities soon were brightly shown in a local gymnasium. He could not see mother till 1918. In 1918-20 Zaritsky studied at the Kiev university. As it was impossible to arrive on faculty of mathematics at the Kiev university (all places were taken), he chose philosophy and studied it in Kiev from 1918 to 1920. However he could continue the mathematical interests and in addition to philosophy studied algebra and the theory of numbers.

There was a civil war, and he attended classes during the fights raging on streets between soldiers of imperial and Red Army. Once the Ukrainian soldiers began to shoot at students, and Zaritsky was wounded. After communists took Kiev and cancelled examinations, it secretly went to take examinations home to professors. At the Kiev university he studied at Dmitry Aleksandrovich Grave (1863-1939), the founder of the first large Russian mathematical school which left the leading mathematics of the next generation. Boris Nikolaevich Delone, Nikolay Grigoryevich Chebotaryov, Otto Yulyevich Schmidt and many others treat their number.

In 1920 Osher returned in the native Kobrin. According to the peace treaty between Russia and young independent Poland, Kobrin departed to Poland. Zaritskoma had to be chosen between the Russian and Polish nationality. He chose the last as he wanted to study mathematics in Western Europe, and it was easier for citizen of Poland to receive the passport. It was attracted by Italy where foreigners did not need to pay for training and where there was very low cost of accommodation. At first he began to study at university Pisa. However the local mathematical faculty on the level and quality of the given knowledge considerably conceded to the Kiev university. Then it was transferred to the Roman university. In Italy he became Oscar Zarissky (English Oscar Zariski) – his name began to be said on western manners. One of his teachers F.Enrikes suggested to change a name to Italian of manners of sounding. This name was used for the first publication which was joint with F.Enrikes. In 1924 he graduated from the Roman university. In Rome he becomes the pupil of the well-known Italian school of algebraic geometr – G. Kastelnuovo (1865-1952), F. Enrikes (1871-1946) and F. Severi (1879-1961).

The algebraic geometry was the main area of researches of Guido Kastelnuovo. He published a number of works about algebraic curves, was engaged in the theory of linear systems and gave it the projective and geometrical interpretation, together with Enriches finished birational classification of algebraic surfaces. It brought a noticeable contribution also in probability theory. Federigo Enriches is most known thanks to the classification of algebraic surfaces. The main works of Francesco Severi belong to birational geometry of algebraic surfaces and the theory of functions of several complex variables.

In 1924 Zarissky finished doctoral studies, having defended under the leadership of Kastelnuovo the dissertation on the subject connected with Galois's theory (the solution of the equations in radicals). The same year he married Yole Cagli, the Italian student who studied literature. For a marriage it comes with the future wife to the hometown of Kobrin. Soon newlyweds come back to Rome.

In Rome the young couple lived at first in the rental apartment, and then with the wife's parents. Their first child was born in 1925. It was restless time. The political situation in Italy began to worsen promptly. On October 27, 1922 the many thousands campaign to Rome of supporters of Fascist party which was organized by Benito Mussolini began. Having been frightened of possible civil war, and, according to some data, hints on its possible shift palace revolution from economic elite, the king Victor Emmanuil III did not sign the act of the prime minister of the announcement of state of emergency in the country and resistance to fascists. He held a meeting with Mussolini and appointed that the prime minister of Italy. Soon Victor Emmanuil III and Mussolini together met the NFP groups entering the city. By the evening on October 30 Mussolini stops forming the cabinet. The parliament consisting generally of liberals under pressing voted for trust to the new government. In the country deep changes begin. Fascist hatred to Jews made Zarissky's life in Italy just intolerable. Zarissky as the Jew with communistic sympathies, does not wish to become the citizen of fascist Italy. He is interrupted by casual earnings. It became a little easier in 1926 when he got Rockefeller's grant. It was decided to go to the Soviet Russia. However so treasured visa did not manage to be received, and Zarissky decided to go to look for happiness to America. Kastelnuovo communicated Lefschetz who agreed to support Zarissky's address on a grant at John Hopkins's University.

In Rome someone joked: "You are with us here, but not one of us". It was told not in reproach, and is good-natured. Kastelnuovo, critically estimating methods of the Italian geometrical school, noticed that they were already insufficient for further progress in the field of algebraic geometry, often led up a blind alley from which an exit was not visible.

And in 1927 by Lefschetz's invitation Zarissky will emigrate to the USA. In a year he earned enough to transport the wife and the child to America. It is necessary to notice that Solomon Lefschetz from Princeton university helped many European mathematics to avoid prosecutions of nazis and fascists.

In 1927-1944 Zarissky teaches at John Hopkins's university (since 1937 – professor), in 1945-1947 – in Illinois, in 1947-1960 – in Harvard universities. In 1935-1936, 1939, 1960-1961 works also at Princeton institute of perspective researches.

World War II not only ruined its plan of visit of England, but also interrupted any communication with mother and other relatives. In 1945 he visits São Paulo. In Brazil he receives a terrible message – nazis killed the most part of relatives, including mother.

Oscar Zarissky's mother

In 1944 the ingenious mathematician was conferred Cole's award for an outstanding contribution to algebra. Cole's award consists of two awards awarded by the American mathematical society for an outstanding contribution to algebra or the theory of numbers. It is called in honor of Frank Nelson Cole holding a post of the secretary of society within 25 years. Since 2000, each of awards is handed time in three years, the size of one award makes 5000 dollars.

Cole in 1903 became famous for the well-known report at a meeting of the American mathematical society, having shown dividers of number of Mersenn 267 − 1. Francois Luc in 1876 proved that this number is not simple, however its dividers were unknown. During this so-called "lecture" Cole approached a board and in a complete silence calculated value of number, having received 147 573 952 589 676 412 927. Then he came over to other side of a board and wrote expression 193 707 721 × 761 838 257 287. After that he carried out the necessary calculations manually and when both results coincided, returned on the place, without having pronounced words. Listeners noted its performance by an applause standing. On finding of these dividers it was required to it "three years of revivals". Cole's award is not true international: it can be awarded to the members of the American mathematical society or mathematics having publications in the leading American magazines.

From the Soviet mathematicians (after all began scientific career in the Soviet Union) this awards are conferred only Andrey Aleksandrovich Suslin (2000) and Alexander Sergeyevich Merkuryev (2012). Both of them are graduates of department of the higher algebra and the theory of numbers of Mathematics and Mechanics faculty I LIE (nowadays St.Petersburg State University). At the moment they work in the USA. I well remember them. They, then still young, during my study for a mat fur of the Leningrad university conducted a practical training on algebra and the theory of numbers. And it is very pleasant that our fellow countryman who was kobrinchanin Oscar Zarissky is in the list of owners of a prestigious award of Cole one of the first.

In 1958 Oscar Zarissky was a part of committee on winning of the award of Filds, during the period between 1960 and 1961 was the vice-president, and in 1969-1970 the president of the American mathematical society – associations of professional mathematicians of the USA. This society promotes development of mathematical science and teaching mathematics, issues scientific magazines, will organize conferences, annually awards monetary grants and prizes to mathematics, pays training of gifted youth. Here the great mathematician with gloss showed the organizing abilities, but was forced to leave this honourable post as the president of society is elected for a period of two years without the right of re-election.

Oscar Zarissky in Harvard Square, 1968.

The main works of the ingenious mathematician belong to area of algebra, especially commutative algebra which he connected with algebraic geometry and gave the necessary severity to conclusions of the Italian teachers (it should be noted an important contribution in A. Veyl and van der Waerden's this direction).

In 1981 to Zarissky Wolf's award and Steel's award were awarded. Steel's award – the award which is annually handed by the American mathematical society for outstanding researches and works in the field of mathematics. Since 1993 the award is awarded in three nominations. The award was founded in 1970 according to Leroy Steel's will – the bachelor of Harvard university. The size of an award makes 5000 dollars, awards are given not on a strict national basis, however are, as a rule, connected with mathematical activity within the USA and the works published in English. Oscar Zarissky received it for a contribution to mathematics throughout all the life.

Wolf's award is awarded in Israel since 1978 by Wolf's (The Wolf Foundation) Fund. It has high authority and often is considered as the second for prestige after the Nobel Prize (in mathematics and medicine – the second ambassador according to Fildsovsky and Laskerovsky awards). To more than 30 winners of an award of Wolf it was soon awarded, for the same works, and the Nobel Prize. Wolf's award is handed annually (with possible breaks) in six nominations: agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics and art. The award in the field of arts is awarded by the rule of rotation of separate arts. Alternation is carried out in the following order: painting, music, architecture, sculpture. The award includes the diploma and a sum of money of $100000.

The fund was founded in 1976 by Ricardo Wolf (1887-1981), the inventor, the diplomat and the philanthropist, and his wife Francisca Subirana-Wolf (1900-1981), for advance of science and art on advantage of mankind. Ricardo Wolf was born in Hanover (Germany), shortly before the beginning of World War I he emigrated to Cuba. Being the ambassador of Cuba in Israel since 1971, after severance of diplomatic relations in 1973 remained in Israel until the end of life.

Selection of winners in each area is carried out by the international committees from three experts. New structures of committees are formed annually. The fund has the status of private non-profit organization. Trustees, members of council and Committees, carry out the duties on the voluntary bases. Wolf's award – one of the few non-state awards having complex character, that is covering at once several spheres of human activity.

Oscar Zarissky from Harvard university (USA) received it as the creator of modern approach to algebraic geometry by its merge to commutative algebra.

After moving to the USA in 1927 Zarissky spent the considerable periods of lecture at other universities, as in the United States and in other countries. He was the invited professor in São Paulo in 1945 and at university of the State of Illinois in 1946-1947. Before, in 1936, he gave lectures at the Moscow university. Later he gave lectures in Kyoto (1956), Institute of the highest researches of scientific researches (1961 and 1967), and the Cambridge university (1972).

Having carried out by 1946-47 at the Illinois university, Zarissky was appointed to department in Harvard where he had to remain before retirement in 1969. Since the end of the 1970th years he suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and its last several years because of deterioration in health were especially difficult.

Many academies and societies honored it, having chosen in the members, including the American National academy of Sciences (1944), American academy of arts and sciences (1948), the American philosophical society (1951), the Brazilian academy of Sciences (1958), National academy of a dea of Linchei (1958).

Zarissky was also outstanding teacher. He made Harvard the world center for algebraic geometry just as Solomon Lefschetz made Princeton the world center for topology. Among his pupils Heicuke Hironaka, David Mumford and Michael Artin are most known. O. Zarissky and P. Samyuel's book "Kommutativnaya algebra" became classical and still has huge value. Its first volume left 1958, and the second – in 1960. The publishing house of "Foreign literature" published this well-known book in Russian translation in 1963. In due time I studied according to this book also, without suspecting anything about Kobrin roots of this remarkable mathematician.

In 1965 he gets the National scientific medal of the USA. This medal is awarded by the U.S. President according to the recommendation of the Committee of the National scientific medal consisting of 12 scientists and engineers. Delivery happens in the White House. Oscar Zarissky received it with the formulation: "For creation of the strict abstract theory of algebraic geometry, and also for deep influence – especially through many brilliant pupils – on algebraic structure of a modern abstract mathematics".

On July 4, 1986 the great mathematician did not become. His heart ceased to fight in Bruklayna (the State of Massachusetts, the USA). Say when Oscar Zarissky learned about award of Wolf's award to him, he exclaimed: "Too late!".

But not late to us. It is worth thinking of immortalizing memory of the ingenious mathematician and in his hometown of Kobrin in which he repeatedly was and which so loved. I think that it is necessary to call by his name one of city streets and, of course, all the life he deserved a monument on the Homeland.

"The person who called geometry "the real life" lived in the world of mathematics. Here his temperament had free expression – curious, optimistical, haughty, stubborn, exacting. In own way it was the embodiment of intellectual romanticism; the boy genius who is marked out for the greatness by teachers; the idealist who is breaking off between love to Russia and devotion to mathematics; the pupil who surpassed the teachers; a harbinger of the European talent which changed academic and artistic life in America" – so characterized it Carol Parikh in the book "The Unreal Life of Oscar Zariski".

I believe that the name of Oscar Zarissky, like a name of Alexander Suvorov, has to be forever entered in nice history of the nice city of Kobrin.

Ya. Logvinovich, Mr. Kobrin


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