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The Case of Academician Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin

Sergei S. Demidov, Boris V. Levshin, "The Case of Academician Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin"
English | ISBN: 1470426080 | 2016 | 410 pages | PDF | 15 MB


The Soviet school, one of the glories of twentieth-century mathematics, faced a serious crisis in the summer of 1936. It was suffering from internal strains due to generational conflicts between the young talents and the old establishment. At the same time, Soviet leaders (including Stalin himself) were bent on "Sovietizing" all of science in the USSR by requiring scholars to publish their works in Russian in the Soviet Union, ending the nearly universal practice of publishing in the West. A campaign to "Sovietize" mathematics in the USSR was launched with an attack on Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin, the leader of the Soviet school of mathematics, in Pravda. Luzin was fortunate in that only a few of the most ardent ideologues wanted to destroy him utterly. As a result, Luzin, though humiliated and frightened, was allowed to make a statement of public repentance and then let off with a relatively mild reprimand. A major factor in his narrow escape was the very abstractness of his research area (descriptive set theory), which was difficult to incorporate into a propaganda campaign aimed at the broader public. The present book contains the transcripts of five meetings of the Academy of Sciences commission charged with investigating the accusations against Luzin, meetings held in July of 1936. Ancillary material from the Soviet press of the time is included to place these meetings in context.
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Tags: Academician, Nikolai, Nikolaevich

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