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|Born||March 22, 1917
|Died||June 25, 2006 (age 89)
|Institutions||University of Chicago|
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Doctoral advisor||Saunders Mac Lane|
|Doctoral students||Hyman Bass
H. Arlen Brown
Fred Wright, Jr.
|Known for||group theory
Kaplansky (or "Kap," as his friends and colleagues called him) was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to Polish-Jewish immigrants; his father worked as a tailor, and his mother ran a grocery and, eventually, a chain of bakeries. He attended the University of Toronto as an undergraduate. In his senior year, he competed in the first William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, becoming one of the first five recipients of the Putnam Fellowship, which paid for graduate studies at Harvard University. After receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1941 as Saunders Mac Lane's first student, he remained at Harvard as a Benjamin Pierce Instructor, and in 1944 moved with Mac Lane to Columbia University for a year. He was professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago from 1945 to 1984, and Chair of the department from 1962 to 1967. Kaplansky's many doctoral students included Hyman Bass, Donald Ornstein, and Harold Widom. Kaplansky was the Director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute from 1984 to 1992, and the President of the American Mathematical Society from 1985 to 1986.
Kaplansky was also an accomplished amateur musician. He studied piano until the age of 15, earned money in high school as a dance band musician, taught Tom Lehrer, and played in Harvard's jazz band in graduate school. He also had a regular program on Harvard's student radio station. After moving to the University of Chicago, he stopped playing for two decades, but then returned to music as an accompanist for student-run Gilbert and Sullivan productions and as a calliope player in football game parades. He often composed music based on mathematical themes. One of those compositions, A Song About Pi, is a melody based on assigning notes to the first 14 decimal places of pi, and has occasionally been performed by his daughter, singer-songwriter Lucy Kaplansky.
Awards and honors
- Kaplansky, Irving (September 1974). Commutative Rings. Lectures in Mathematics. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-42454-5.
- Fun with Mathematics: Some Thoughts from Seven Decades, a video lecture of Kaplansky's advice on writing mathematical papers
- Irving Kaplansky Memoir by Nancy E. Albert
- Making Family Stories into Art
- Albers, Donald J.; Alexanderson, Gerald L.; Reid, Constance, eds. (1990), "Irving Kaplansky", More Mathematical People, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, pp. 118–136.
- Irving Kaplansky — mathematician and author
- In memoriam: Irving Kaplansky
- Irving Kaplansky at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Albert, Nancy E. (2007). Irving Kaplansky: Some Reflections on His Early Years (PDF). Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- Freund, Peter G. O. Irving Kaplansky and Supersymmetry. arXiv:physics/0703037
- Bass, Hyman; Lam, T.Y. (December 2007). "Irving Kaplansky (1917–2006)" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society 54 (11): pp.1477–1493. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- Kadison, Richard V. (February 2008). "Irving Kaplansky's Role in Mid-Twentieth Century Functional Analysis" (PDF). Notices of the AMS 55 (2): pp.216–225. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Irving Kaplansky", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
- Pearce, Jeremy (July 13, 2006). "Irving Kaplansky, 89, a Pioneer in Mathematical Exploration". The New York Times. p. C15. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- Irving Kaplansky + Ternary Quadratic Forms
- Irving Kaplansky + Lie Superalgebras