Israel Halperin

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Israel Halperin
Born (1911-01-05)January 5, 1911
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died March 8, 2007(2007-03-08) (aged 96)
Doctoral advisor Salomon Bochner and John von Neumann
Doctoral students George Elliott
Notable awards Henry Marshall Tory Medal (1967)

Israel Halperin, CM FRSC (January 5, 1911 – March 8, 2007) was a Canadian mathematician and social activist.

Early life and education[edit]

Israel Halperin was born in Toronto Ontario, the son of Russian immigrants Solomon Halperin and Fanny Lundy, Halperin attended Malvern Collegiate Institute,[1] Victoria University in the University of Toronto, graduated from the University of Toronto in 1932, and later was a graduate student of John von Neumann at Princeton University, where he finished his doctorate.

Early career[edit]

Halperin took a faculty position at Queen's University beginning in 1939. Halperin joined the Canadian Army in 1942, serving until 1945 in Ottawa with the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE). He then returned to Queen's.[2]

Arrest and release[edit]

In February 1946, Halperin was arrested and accused of espionage in Canada, in connection with the defection of Igor Gouzenko, a Soviet cipher clerk, which occurred in Ottawa in September 1945.[3] Gouzenko's defection and subsequent investigation showed that the Soviet Union was carrying on large-scale spying in Canada and the United States, including nuclear weapons espionage.

After some arduous questioning and confinement lasting several weeks, under a Royal Commission appointed by Justice Minister Louis St-Laurent, followed by a trial in early 1947, Halperin was eventually cleared and freed. He resumed teaching at Queen's, but not until 1948, following more legal hurdles which were raised by Queen's University leadership. Queen's Principal Robert Charles Wallace advocated his return.[4]

Later career[edit]

Following von Neumann's death in 1957, Halperin completed two of his unfinished papers, leaving them under von Neumann's name alone.[5]

Halperin taught at Queen's until 1966, earning tenure as a full professor. He then moved to the University of Toronto until his retirement in 1976, by which time he had authored more than 100 academic papers. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from Queen's in 1989, and was made a Member of the Order of Canada, both for his humanitarian work.[6]


Halperin was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1953, and won the Henry Marshall Tory Medal in 1967.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Halperin was the father of four children, all of whom went on to become professors: William Halperin,[8] Connie Eaves, Stephen Halperin, and Mary Hannah.[9]

Halperin died in 2007 at age 96.


  1. ^ Martin, Sandra (April 7, 2007). "Israel Halperin, Scholar and Activist, 1911-2007". Globe and Mail. 
  2. ^ Beck (February 2008), p. 16.
  3. ^ Beck (February 2008), p. 14-15.
  4. ^ Beck (February 2008), pp. 14-20, 52.
  5. ^ Beck (February 2008), p. 16.
  6. ^ Beck (February 2008) pp. 20, 52.
  7. ^ Beck (February 2008), p. 52.
  8. ^ {{|url=}}
  9. ^ Archived May 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.


  • Beck, Sara (February 2008). "A Question of Treason". Queen's Alumni Review: 14–20, 52. 

Further reading[edit]

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