News is circulating on the internet that Israel Gelfand has died. My ultimate source for this is LiveJournal, so take it with a grain of salt, but it’s not hard to believe, given that the guy was 96. Anyways, seminars will never be the same again.

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That’s very sad but true. RIP

An obituary by Andrei Zelevinsky (in Russian): http://avzel.blogspot.com/2009/10/blog-post_05.html

Sorry to hear of his passing.

On a lighter note, Ben’s post (and recent discussion with Carl) reminds me of the very large number of blogs by Russian mathematicians (many of which are on LiveJournal). I would conjecture that there are many more Russian math blogs than english math blogs (though I should note that most of these blogs are more “personal blogs” rather than “math blogs”).

I was consider adding some of these blogs to our blogroll, but I guess this would be of limited use to our non-Russian speaking readers (myself included).

Well, your conjecture (that most of these blogs are more “personal blogs”) is probably true but there exist several LJ communities specifically dealing with math per se (well, most of the time :)). Here are several important examples: ru_mathresearch, ru_math,

ru_math2, virtual_ium, ljr_math (notice that the last one is not at livejournal.com).

Maybe it’s worth mentioning — as a kind of tribute to Gelfand — that this blog is named after the Secret Russian Seminar, which was the informal name of a student representation theory seminar that we used to run at Berkeley. Most of us didn’t speak any Russian, but we definitely took some inspiration from the idea that in a Gelfand style seminar, the audience lectures the speaker.

He was also your mathematical great-grandfather (Gelfand has 302 mathematical descendants according to The Mathematics Genealogy Project), which was presumably pretty high on the list of living people).

My understanding is that Feigin deserves most of the credit for advising Frenkel, which puts me in a different line of descent. Aside from giving Feigin his props, this doesn’t matter. We all go back to Gauss, and I’m happy to be counted among Gelfand’s intellectual descendants.

Not all of us go back to Gauss. All of my ancestors were in the UK, where they didn’t have the advisor-PhD system until relatively recently.

Re 3:

Here are some translations, courtesy of google, for those interested:

ljr_math virtual_ium ru_math2 ru_math ru_mathresearch

Just in case, Gelfand was the undergraduate advisor of Feigin anyway (see, in particular, recollections of Fuchs here: http://www.ams.org/distribution/mmj/vol4-3-2004/dedication.html).

Volodya’s link got slightly garbled, the correct one is here.

More of the sad news: Vladimir Arnold died today in Paris, France.