© 2016

Mathematician for All Seasons

Recollections and Notes, Vol. 2 (1945–1968)

  • Robert G. Burns
  • Irena Szymaniec
  • Aleksander Weron

Part of the Vita Mathematica book series (VM, volume 19)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Hugo Steinhaus
    Pages 1-14
  3. Hugo Steinhaus
    Pages 15-65
  4. Hugo Steinhaus
    Pages 67-83
  5. Hugo Steinhaus
    Pages 85-283
  6. Hugo Steinhaus
    Pages 285-292
  7. Hugo Steinhaus
    Pages 293-377
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 379-403

About this book


This book presents, in his own words, the life of Hugo Steinhaus (1887–1972), noted Polish mathematician of Jewish background, educator, and mathematical popularizer. A student of Hilbert, a pioneer of the foundations of probability and game theory, and a contributor to the development of functional analysis, he was one of those instrumental to the extraordinary flowering of Polish mathematics before and after World War I. In particular, it was he who “discovered” the great Stefan Banach. Exhibiting his great integrity and wit, Steinhaus’s personal story of the turbulent times he survived – including two world wars and life postwar under the Soviet heel – cannot but be of consuming interest. His recounting of the fearful years spent evading Nazi terror is especially moving. The steadfast honesty and natural dignity he maintained while pursuing a life of demanding scientific and intellectual enquiry in the face of encroaching calamity and chaos show him to be truly a mathematician for all seasons.

The present work will be of great interest not only to mathematicians wanting to learn some of the details of the mathematical blossoming that occurred in Poland in the first half of the 20th century, but also to anyone wishing to read a first-hand account of the history of those unquiet times in Europe – and indeed world-wide – by someone of uncommon intelligence and forthrightness situated near an eye of the storm.


Interwar Poland Mathematics World War I Mathematics World War II Poland 20th century Polish history Polish mathematicians

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.WroclawPoland

Editors and affiliations

  • Robert G. Burns
    • 1
  • Irena Szymaniec
    • 2
  • Aleksander Weron
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and StatiYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.WrocławPoland
  3. 3.The Hugo Steinhaus CenterWrocław University of Technology (WWrocławPoland

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Mathematician for All Seasons
  • Book Subtitle Recollections and Notes, Vol. 2 (1945–1968)
  • Authors Hugo Steinhaus
  • Editors Robert G. Burns
    Irena Szymaniec
    Aleksander Weron
  • Series Title Vita Mathematica
  • Series Abbreviated Title Vita Mathematica(Birkhäuser)
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
  • Publisher Name Birkhäuser, Cham
  • eBook Packages Mathematics and Statistics Mathematics and Statistics (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-23101-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-79449-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-23102-0
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XI, 403
  • Number of Illustrations 20 b/w illustrations, 6 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Mathematical Sciences
    History, general
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
Industry Sectors
Finance, Business & Banking


“The diary entries are a fascinating combination of the personal: the dangers and frustrations of daily life in a country ravaged by war, and the historical: life in a country that is slipping into the smothering grasp of the Soviet Union. … These entries show that Steinhaus followed world events very closely and had access to information beyond the state controlled media. They make for fascinating reading.” (J. M. Plotkin, Mathematical Reviews, January, 2017)

“It was published in a nice and careful way. Many interesting pictures have been included. … The book will be certainly of great interest both for historians of mathematics as well as for all wishing to learn … the history of Polish mathematics in the years after WWII. It shows how the famous Lvov school of mathematics found the continuation in the new Poland and how Polish mathematics has been restored after the war.” (Roman Murawski, zbMATH 1334.01007, 2016)