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Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Understanding a Professor and a Revolutionary," by Richard Pipes. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 18April 2003, pages B11-B12.

Pipes tells the strange, but fascinating, tale of Alexander Pell: firstmathematics chair (1897) at the University of South Dakota, and the first deanof its school of engineering. An AMS member, he was extremely popular, earningthe nickname "Jolly Little Pell." Yet this kind, jolly man had been an assassinand informer in his earlier years as a revolutionary in Russia when his namewas Sergei Degaev. Pipes relates the details of the opposite parts ofDegaev/Pell's life and wonders which part was the real person.

--- Mike Breen