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Mark Kac’s First Publication: A Translation of "O nowym sposobie rozwiązywania równań stopnia trzeciego" – Acknowledgements and About the Author

David Derbes (University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, retired)

It’s a pleasure to thank Prof. Joel E. Cohen for sending me a scan of the original article, and for his encouragement to proceed with this project. I am happy to thank Prof. Dan Kalman for his many excellent suggestions to earlier versions of this paper, much to its betterment, and for not only providing the crucial clue as to where the original could be found, but also for sending a copy of Ranjan Roy’s paper to me. (Thanks to Prof. Kalman, I was able to provide Prof. Roy with a replacement copy of his own paper.) This paper could not have been written without their help. I am very grateful to Zbigniew Kantorosinski, who graciously checked the translation. I want to thank my friend Barbara Dash, of the Library of Congress, for introducing me to her colleague (and incidentally, four decades ago, also to my wife). I would also like to thank the referees for their valuable suggestions, and in particular one who suggested I look at [Mollame 1890] for an early attempt to handle the casus irreducibilis in real roots, and at [McFarland, McFarland, and Smith 2014] for background information on Parametr, Młody Matematyk, and their editors Antoni Marian Rusiecki and Stefan Straszewicz. While I was able to find the Mollame article online, the pandemic prevented my obtaining the book from the University of Chicago’s library. The referee kindly forwarded to me an electronic copy of the relevant chapter of the book.

I very much regret that I cannot here thank Prof. Roy, who died suddenly in August of 2020 while walking with his wife. But I did thank him many times during this project, not least for helping me contact Prof. Cohen.

I offer this article in memory of the tens of thousands in Mark Kac’s city of Krzemieniec, including his immediate family, killed in the Holocaust, and in memory of Ranjan Roy.

About the Author

David Derbes is a retired high school physics teacher. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics at Princeton in 1974, an ex post facto master’s degree from Part III of the Mathematical Tripos, Cambridge University, and a PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1979; he is Peter Higgs’s only American student. He taught mathematics and physics at the school from which he graduated, Isidore Newman in New Orleans, from 1979 to 1984, engineering physics at Tulane University between 1984 and 1986, and mostly physics at the University of Chicago’s Laboratory Schools from 1986 to 2019. His retirement occupation is manuscript salvage: translation and/or editing of important, never-published, or out of print lecture notes and articles, most recently as part of a team working on Sidney Coleman’s lectures on quantum field theory. He is married (fortieth anniversary in July 2021) and has one adult daughter in government service, and two very mischievous cats. He can be reached at

David Derbes (University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, retired), "Mark Kac’s First Publication: A Translation of "O nowym sposobie rozwiązywania równań stopnia trzeciego" – Acknowledgements and About the Author," Convergence (April 2021)