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Mathematics LibreTexts

About the Author

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    Elias Zakon was born in Russia under the czar in 1908, and he was swept along in the turbulence of the great events of twentieth-century Europe. Zakon studied mathematics and law in Germany and Poland, and later he joined his father’s law practice in Poland. Fleeing the approach of the German Army in 1941, he took his family to Barnaul, Siberia, where, with the rest of the populace, they endured five years of hardship. The Leningrad Institute of Technology was also evacuated to Barnaul upon the siege of Leningrad, and there he met the mathematician I. P. Natanson; with Natanson’s encouragement, Zakon again took up his studies and research in mathematics.

    Zakon and his family spent the years from 1946 to 1949 in a refugee camp in Salzburg, Austria, where he taught himself Hebrew, one of the six or seven languages in which he became fluent. In 1949, he took his family to the newly created state of Israel and he taught at the Technion in Haifa until 1956. In Israel he published his first research papers in logic and analysis. Throughout his life, Zakon maintained a love of music, art, politics, history, law, and especially chess; it was in Israel that he achieved the rank of chess master.

    In 1956, Zakon moved to Canada. As a research fellow at the University of Toronto, he worked with Abraham Robinson. In 1957, he joined the mathematics faculty at the University of Windsor, where the first degrees in the newly established Honors program in Mathematics were awarded in 1960. While at Windsor, he continued publishing his research results in logic and analysis. In this post-McCarthy era, he often had as his house-guest the prolific and eccentric mathematician Paul Erdös, who was then banned from the United States for his political views. Erdös would speak at the University of Windsor, where mathematicians from the University of Michigan and other American universities would gather to hear him and to discuss mathematics.

    While at Windsor, Zakon developed three volumes on mathematical analysis, which were bound and distributed to students. His goal was to introduce rigorous material as early as possible; later courses could then rely on this material. We are publishing here the latest complete version of the second of these volumes, which was used in a two-semester class required of all secondyear Honours Mathematics students at Windsor.