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Zariski, Oscar


ZARISKI, OSCAR (1899–1986), U.S. mathematician. Zariski was born in Kobrin, Russia, His father was a talmudic scholar who died when Zariski was two, leaving his mother Hannah to support seven children. She did this by running a store, and in fact the family became one of the richest in Kobrin. In 1927 Zariski won a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University in the U.S., where he was professor of mathematics from 1937 to 1945. He was then professor at the University of Illinois and finally at Harvard. Zariski's contribution to mathematics was mainly in the fields of algebraic geometry, modern algebra, and topology, and he is known particularly for his work on algebraic surfaces. Zariski received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1939–40. He was president of the American Mathematical Society in 1969–70 and was editor of the American Journal of Mathematics. Among his books are Commutative Algebra (2 vols., 1958–60) with P. Samuel; and Algebraic Surfaces (1935); he edited the work of R. Dedekind, Essenza e significato dei numeri (1926).

[Maurice Goldsmith]

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