Fall of Communism changed mathematics in US: New study

Feb 07, 2012

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 brought an influx of Soviet mathematicians to U.S. institutions, and those scholars' differing areas of specialization have changed the way math is studied and taught in this country, according to new research by University of Notre Dame Economist Kirk Doran and a colleague from Harvard.

Titled "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American ," the study will appear in an upcoming edition of the . "In this paper, we examine the impact of the influx of renowned Soviet mathematicians into the global community," says Doran.

"In the period between the establishment and fall of communism, Soviet mathematics developed in an insular fashion and along very different specializations than American mathematics. As a result, some mathematicians experienced few potential insights from the Soviets, while other fields experienced a flood of new mathematicians, theorems and ideas."

Between the rise and fall of communism in the Soviet Union (1922-92), there was little collaboration and were few exchanges between Soviet and Western mathematicians. In fact, any communication with American mathematicians was read by authorities and special permission was needed to publish outside the .

"Just as speakers of one language, when separated geographically for many generations, develop separate and different dialects through natural changes over time, so Western and Eastern mathematicians, separated by Stalinist and Cold War political institutions, developed under different influences to the point of achieving very different specializations across the fields of mathematics," according to Doran.

Results of the study suggest that the sudden shift in specialized mathematics areas not only was related to a decline in the productivity of American mathematicians whose areas of specialty most overlapped with that of the Soviets, but it also reduced the likelihood of a competing American mathematician producing a top research paper.

Similarly, marginal American mathematicians became much more likely to transfer to lower ranked institutions and to significantly reduce their research and scholarship. There also is evidence in the study that the students of Soviet émigrés had higher lifetime productivity than students from the same institution whose advisors were non-Soviet émigrés.

Explore further: Researchers help Boston Marathon organizers plan for 2014 race

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Top Russian mathematician Vladimir Arnold dies

Jun 03, 2010

Russian Vladimir Arnold, one of the most important mathematicians of the 20th century, died Thursday in France just a few days short of his 73rd birthday, Russian news agencies reported.

Math institute gets largest NSF grant ever

Jul 20, 2005

The Institute for Mathematics and its Applications in Minnesota has received the largest math research grant ever made by the National Science Foundation.

Embracing complexity

Jul 30, 2010

Mathematicians from more than a dozen countries will gather at Case Western Reserve University next week to discuss the theoretical world of high dimensions.

Electric fish could spark healthcare innovation

Jun 19, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Mathematicians in Manchester are hoping electric fish can give them clues to solving a fiendishly complex mathematical problem - which could in turn lead to better treatment for patients with ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

3 hours ago

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

cdkeli
1 / 5 (1) Feb 15, 2012
Ok but overall wasn't this better for scholarship and hence the advance of mathematics?

More news stories

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different ...