Alexander Jessenin-Wolpin

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Alexander Sergeyevich Yesenin-Volpin [ ɐlʲɪksandr sʲɪrɡʲejɪvʲɪt͡ɕ jɪsʲenʲɪn volʲpʲɪn ] ( Russian Александр Сергеевич Есенин-Вольпин , English Alexander Yesenin-Volpin * 12. May 1924 in Leningrad ; † 16th March 2016 in Boston , United States ) was a Soviet -American mathematician . In the Soviet Union he also emerged as a dissident and poet , which brought him into political captivity for many years .


Jessenin-Wolpin was an illegitimate child of the poet Sergei Jessenin and Nadeschda Wolpina , who also worked as a poet. After school, he studied mathematics at Lomonosov University in Moscow and graduated in 1946.

During this time he published his own poems for the first time. These poems were considered "anti-Soviet" and in 1949 earned him his first placement in a psychiatric institution . Such an approach to dissenters was common in the Soviet Union and had nothing to do with actual mental illness. In 1950 he was arrested again and then exiled to Karaganda Oblast . In 1953, after Josef Stalin's death , he was given an amnesty .

At that time, Jessenin-Wolpin began doing basic mathematical research . Particular areas of interest were intuitionism and ultrafinitism , of which he is the best-known representative to this day. However, he also worked on classical mathematics. In this way he succeeded in constructing a countable model of set theory and thus giving an example of Skolem's paradox .

Yessenin-Wolpin continued to fight for human rights . One of his ideas was to defend human rights by adhering to the letters of the laws of the Soviet Union, which on paper promised citizens freedom. On December 5, 1965, he organized a demonstration in Pushkin Square in Moscow . Western journalists were invited to make sure the event was covered. On leaflets, Yesenin-Wolpin stressed that the arrest of the dissidents Andrei Sinjawski and Juli Daniel , which took place shortly before, was contrary to the constitution and the criminal code of the Soviet Union. The demonstration was broken up by security forces and the demonstrators arrested.

In 1967, 99 mathematicians, mainly from Lomonosov University, published an open letter in support of Jessenin-Wolpin. This was soon one of the triggers for more rigorous political oversight at Lomonosov University, including the screening out of undesirable prospective students, especially in mathematics, which in the 1970s and 1980s mainly included Jews.

In May 1972, Jessenin-Wolpin left the Soviet Union and emigrated to the USA . There he taught mathematics at Boston University .

He wrote the articles on the status of the 1st and 2nd Hilbert problem in the anthology edited by Pawel Alexandrow about them.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Aleksandr Yesenin-Volpin, Prominent Soviet-Era Dissident, Dies Aged 91
  2. Pismo-99 (accessed May 31, 2018).
  3. For example Alexander Shen Entrance Examinations to the Mekh-Mat , Mathematical Intelligencer 1994, online (pdf)