Mina Stopar:

But what about his life? Let’s consider the following paragraph from the book: “I spent hours and hours doing math problems without a teacher forcing me. Whole books of algebra problems – I did them one after another. I was only seven or eight, but I always wanted mathematics.”

That might be something you’d find in many biographies of world-renowned mathematicians, right? However, Carol Parikh notes: “Although Zariski was by all accounts an exceptionally quick and eager math student, the full extent of his gifts became apparent relatively late in life. He was almost twenty-five before he published his first paper and almost fifty when he did his great work on holomorphic functions…”

In fact, Zariski remained active and productive even into his eighties.

But how did Zariski’s story begin? It seems his older brother Moses played a significant role in shaping young Oscar. He taught him elementary algebra, and even when Oscar began surpassing him, he never resented it. While Oscar was in gymnasium, Moses would buy math and philosophy books for him during his business trips to Moscow and Petrograd. Oscar was especially interested in Hegel and Marx.