◀ ▲ ▶History / 20th-century / Person: Subbotovskaya, Bella Abramovna
Person: Subbotovskaya, Bella Abramovna
Bella Subbotovskaya was a Russian mathematician most famous for founding the "The Jewish People's University" in Moscow.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- She was universally known as Bella and we shall refer to her by that name throughout this biography.
- Bella's parents were Abram Subbotovski and Rebekka Evseevna.
- Bella received this book in September and in October she had a pile of notebooks filled with solutions to all the exercises found in the text.
- During her years at school, Bella joined mathematical societies and took part in mathematical competitions.
- We were not particularly great friends, since it was not easy to be friends with Bella.
- Our class was very strong (Serezha Novikov, Vitya Palamodov, Galya Tyurina, Sasha Olevsky, Volodya Zorich, Sasha Vinogradov were all in our class); we showed off to one another and never suspected that the awkward, noisy Bella was one of the best mathematicians amongst us.
- And suddenly - who is this - but it is Bella, believe it or not, with a bald, shaved head.
- In 1959, while still studying mathematics at Moscow State University, Bella began studying singing at the Gnessinykh Musical Institute.
- Bella, however, was concerned with something entirely different.
- Bella was in Moscow while at that time Muchnik was living in Gorky.
- In March 1961 Bella became ill and was hospitalised.
- Muchnik came to see her in April and they spent a week when Bella was still at the hospital but able to go out for walks with Muchnik.
- Bella worked with A A Lyapunov on problems of optimization while she also undertook research on algebraic logic aiming at a doctorate.
- Knowing that the majority of the students would not do home assignments, Bella still gave out homework, although these problems were very similar to those solved by the students in the previous class.
- In 1967 Bella defended her thesis and published results from it in the paper A criterion for the comparability of bases for the realisation of Boolean functions by formulas (Russian) which appeared in the same year.
- Bella's marriage lasted for around ten years but ended in divorce.
- The only thing that remained from her former life was the chamber orchestra of Moscow University, where Bella played the viola until her last days ...
- Bella is most famous for founding the "The Jewish People's University".
- Perhaps it is worth noting that this discrimination had not been there earlier and Bella, although a Jew, had entered Mekh-Mat on merit in the 1950s.
- At the time that Kanevsky and Senderov had planned to gather data, Bella was coaching students who were going to sit the entrance examinations for Mekh-Mat.
- Bella and Senderov met in July 1978 outside Moscow State University when the examination of prospective students was taking place.
- Bella set up the university which began with 14 students who came to her 2-room apartment for lectures.
- Bella did not teach herself, but organised a collection of talented mathematicians to give courses.
- Bella supplied sandwiches for the students and they contributed a small fee to cover the cost of the food.
- In 1980 Bella approached Andrei Zelevinsky asking him to teach at the Jewish People's University.
- Although Bella expected immediate action by the KGB, nothing happened until August when Bella was summoned to meet with a KGB official.
- Bella explained that the list contained the names of the students enrolled for free mathematics lessons.
- Bella explained that this money was only for sandwiches.
- If the KGB thought that without Bella the Jewish People's University would not survive, then they were correct.
- The organization of the Jewish People's University demanded of her great courage and resolve, and the support of its continuation demanded incessant efforts; but in her behaviour there was no sign of self-importance or "showing off." In the general atmosphere of "phoniness" - the most common feature of Soviet society of those years - the very fact of precise and continuous functioning of PU, provided by Bella Abramovna's efforts, gave students (and also the instructors) a significant lesson in professionalism and responsibility.
Born 17 December 1937, Moscow, Russia. Died 23 September 1982, Moscow, Russia.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive