**Zariski**'s work was on foundations of algebraic geometry using algebraic methods. He worked on the theory of normal varieties, local uniformisation and the reduction of singularities of algebraic varieties.

- We will comment below on how his name came to be changed to the now familiar version of Oscar Zariski.
- A tutor was provided for Oscar from the time he was seven years old and Oscar, under the guidance of the tutor, showed remarkable aptitude for the Russian language and for arithmetic.
- However Zariski had carried out his studies through a period of turmoil in Kiev.
- Life for Zariski was just too difficult in this city so devastated by war, so he decided to go to Italy to continue his studies.
- In Rome Zariski came under the influence of the great algebraic geometers Castelnuovo, Enriques and Severi.
- It was while Zariski was in Rome that Enriques suggested that Ascher Zaritsky, as he was then called, change his name to the Italian sounding Oscar Zariski.
- Zariski had gone to Italy to escape the problems in Belarus and the Ukraine.
- The Fascist hatred of Jews made life for Zariski, because of his Jewish background, particularly difficult.
- Castelnuovo and Severi had encouraged Zariski to view Lefschetz's topological methods as being the road ahead for algebraic geometry, so between 1927 and 1937 Zariski frequently visited Lefschetz at Princeton.
- During this period Zariski wrote Algebraic Surfaces which was published in 1935.
- At Johns Hopkins University between 1939 and 1940 Zariski carried out his project of applying modern algebra to the foundations of algebraic geometry.
- An important year for Zariski was 1945 which he spent in São Paolo.
- Both Zariski and Weil learnt much in discussions, often arguments, about the material that Zariski was presenting.
- After spending the year 1946-47 at the University of Illinois, Zariski was appointed to a chair at Harvard where he was to remain until he retired in 1969.
- In 1981 Zariski was awarded the Steele Prize by the American Mathematical Society for the cumulative influence of his total mathematical research.
- In 1937 Zariski completely reoriented his research and began to introduce ideas from abstract algebra into algebraic geometry.
- The theory of equisingularity and saturation begun by Zariski in 1965 has also been of great influence and importance.
- All of Zariski's work has served as a basis for the present flowering of algebraic geometry and the current school uses his work and ideas in the modern development of the subject.
- Zariski's most famous book is Commutative Algebra, a two volume work written jointly with P Samuel.
- The American Mathematical Society played a large role in Zariski's life and he contributed greatly to the Society over many years.
- Zariski played an important role in mathematical publishing after his appointment as a full professor.
- After going to the United States in 1927 Zariski spent considerable periods lecturing at other universities both in the United States and in other countries.

Born 24 April 1899, Kobrin, Russian Empire (now Belarus). Died 4 July 1986, Brookline, Massachusetts, USA.

View full biography at MacTutor

Origin Belarus, Topology, Prize Wolf

Definitions: 1

**O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F**: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive