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The introductory part of the book briefly describes the popularity of mathematics in Soviet Russia, touches on Russian mathematical circles and generally how Russian society took to mathematics in a good way; amongst other things. The part that caught my eye was this passage:

"The Math Movement had its Grandmasters, who were highly esteemed. Most of them were research mathematicians and university professors who had drawn experience from years spent within the same mathematical circles. Their books, which contained selections of problems with commentaries, or thorough analyses of selected topics from “elementary mathematics,” were in high demand. Many of these books were superb and unparalleled in their quality and depth. Remarkably, they were swept from the bookstore shelves, immediately upon arrival."

Does anyone know of these books? Have there been any popular ones that have been translated? Who were these "grandmasters"?

Any more information would be greatly appreciated.

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somewhat related, you ought to look at Love and Math by Frenkel. I suspect, Gelfand, Krillov, Arnold, but, I'm no Russian so I'll leave it at that. –  James S. Cook Jul 6 '14 at 22:07

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

The paragraph you refer to is about probably 50th and 60th, and I am not well aware of the book from that period. However, I would like to point out that starting from 1980 and till 1992 a series of math and physics books was published under the title "Библиотечка Кванта" (Kvant's library). Some of these books are translations of very insightful books, but most are written by big names such as Kolmogorov, Pontryagin, etc. You can find all the issues here. If someone is at school, likes physics and math, and reads Russian, this is a great read.

I would also recommend to check out the magazine Kvant. It has tons of wonderful problems with solutions.

About other books: Probably the series by I.M.Gelfand and co-authors is worth mentioning. These books were initiated and planned by Izrael Moiseevich, but written mostly by the co-authors. You can find some of them in English just going through the books by Gelfand.

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Just to add to this, a publisher going by the name of MIR seems to have been a big player in publishing texts by prominent Soviet mathematicians, however it is very difficult to get hold of those books today, some of them can be found on the site mirtitles.org –  seeker Jul 20 '14 at 15:43
@Assad Publisher MIR ("World") is more famous with translations into Russian of many classics in mathematics. It turns out that some books published in Russian in MIR have better quality than the original (due to higher typographic standards and very careful work of editors). They also known as publishing translations of Russian books into English, but I was never fan of this because I think that a translation has to be made by a native speaker, which was not the rule for MIR. –  Artem Jul 20 '14 at 16:26
Let me add that a good number of the "elementary" books listed on math.ru, which Artem linked to, have translations into Western languages, most commonly Spanish, French and English. (See math.ru/lib/cat ) So if you want a selection of these books, it's enough to do a search on Worldcat for the authors' names and specify the desired languages. Also, many articles from Kvant were translated into English in Quantum Magazine. –  user207349 Jan 14 at 4:10

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