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Mathematics across the Iron Curtain: A History of the Algebraic Theory of Semigroups
Christopher Hollings

History of Mathematics
2014; 441 pp; hardcover
Volume: 41
ISBN-10: 1-4704-1493-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-4704-1493-1
List Price: US$109
Member Price: US$87.20
Order Code: HMATH/41
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See also:

Episodes in the History of Modern Algebra (1800-1950) - Jeremy J Gray and Karen Hunger Parshall

Golden Years of Moscow Mathematics: Second Edition - Smilka Zdravkovska and Peter L Duren

John von Neumann: Selected Letters - Miklos Redei

The theory of semigroups is a relatively young branch of mathematics, with most of the major results having appeared after the Second World War. This book describes the evolution of (algebraic) semigroup theory from its earliest origins to the establishment of a full-fledged theory.

Semigroup theory might be termed `Cold War mathematics' because of the time during which it developed. There were thriving schools on both sides of the Iron Curtain, although the two sides were not always able to communicate with each other, or even gain access to the other's publications. A major theme of this book is the comparison of the approaches to the subject of mathematicians in East and West, and the study of the extent to which contact between the two sides was possible.


Graduate students and research mathematicians interested in algebraic semi-groups and the history of mathematics during the Cold War.


"The book itself is a mixture of history and of mathematics throughout. Although the emphasis is squarely on the mathematics, there are biographies of key figures, explaining who these people were along with the occasional anecdote about their mathematical lives, reflecting their characters. For example, Lyapin was not one of the original editors of Semigroup Forum because the Soviet authorities refused him permission. ...Overall, this is valuable reference work, detailing much of the history of algebraic semigroups that might otherwise be lost. For connoisseurs of the subject, it represents a really good read."

-- Mathematical Reviews

"Hollings has done a masterful job. The book is well written, both in telling the story and in explaining the mathematics involved. It is an important and valuable contribution to the history of mathematics in the 20th century. This book should be in the libraries of all research institutions, and on the shelves of those interested in the history of abstract algebra, as well as those of semigroup researchers."

-- MAA Reviews

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