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In praise of J.V. Uspensky

Friday, January 31, 2020 - 4:00pm
"In praise of J.V. Uspensky"

The two of us have shared a fascination with James Victor Uspensky's book Introduction to Mathematical Probability ever since our graduate student days: it contains many interesting results not found in other books on the same subject in the English language, together with many non-trivial examples, all this clearly stated with careful proofs. We would like to present some of Uspensky's gems to a modern audience hoping to tempt people to read Uspensky for themselves, as well as report on some of the other mathematical topics he also wrote on (for example, his book on number theory contains results about perfect shuffles).


Uspensky also had an interesting life: a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, he spoke at the 1924 ICM in Toronto before fleeing Russia and coming to the US and Stanford. His students included Vinogradov and Kuzmin in Russia, and Carl Olds in the US. Comparatively little has been written about him not in Russian; we hope to remedy this.