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Conference Papers Year : 2019

Mathematicians at the Scottish Café

Chris Zielinski
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Between 1935 and 1941, “The Scottish Book” – a collection of almost 200 mathematical problems – was compiled by a group of Polish mathematicians who gathered at the Scottish Cafe in the Polish (earlier Austro-Hungarian/now Ukrainian) city of Lwów (Lemberg/Lviv) (Note: In this paper, I am using the names Lemberg, Lwów and Lviv, according to whether at the time the city was a part of Austria-Hungary, Poland or either the Soviet Union or Ukraine. Some essential history: (1) When Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939, the Germans crossed the whole of the country and reached as far as Lwów in the East; (2) Then they stopped and handed over the eastern section, including Lwów, to their Soviet allies (a result of the Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact), and retreated to the present-day Polish border; (3) Between October 1939 and May 1941, Lwów was under Soviet control. (4) In June 1941, with Germany and the Soviet Union allies no longer, the Germans ousted the Soviets from Lwów and stayed until the end of the War. (5) Lwów then became a city in the Ukrainian SSR; and (6) it is now is a part of independent Ukraine.). The Scottish Café had nothing to do with Scotland. It was owned by the author’s grandfather, Tomasz Zielinski. The Scottish Book and its problems survived World War II (a successor tome is being compiled and kept at the University of Wroclaw, Poland). Many members of this Lwów School of Mathematics went on to have illustrious careers and make indelible contributions to their chosen subject. This paper describes the evidence on the Scottish Book and the history of the various participants in this small but lasting component of the edifice of modern mathematics, which has been termed a “classic in mathematical thought”.
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Dates and versions

hal-02386544 , version 1 (29-11-2019)





Chris Zielinski. Mathematicians at the Scottish Café. IFIP International Conference on the History of Computing (HC), Sep 2018, Poznan, Poland. pp.252-275, ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-29160-0_13⟩. ⟨hal-02386544⟩
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