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Alexandr A. Chuprov: Life, work, correspondence. 2nd revised edition edited by Heinrich Strecker. (English) Zbl 1210.01043

Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht unipress (ISBN 978-3-89971-812-6/hbk). 206 p. (2011).
The book under review was first published in Russian [Moskva: Gosudarstvennyj Komitet SSSR po Statistike, Informatsionno- Izdatel’skij Tsentr (1990; Zbl 0719.01020)] and then in English translation [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (1996; Zbl 0845.01011)]. Since it was reviewed before, I will limit myself to a comparison between the two English editions.
The book has basically remained the same. I couldn’t find any major changes (i.e., anything beyond adding, deleting, or revising a sentence here and there) to any chapter except for chapters one, seven, and sixteen. The only two exceptions seem to be Chapter 10, which has a number of changes to its last two pages, and the exposition of Lexis, Section 14.1, which was substantially revised. Small changes, however, are ubiquitous throughout the whole book and can virtually be found on every page. Sometimes material seems to be new only because it was moved around (e.g., what once was Section 5.4 is now included to Section 5.1; likewise, the latter part of Section 9.3.3 was formerly a subsection of its own, Section 9.3.5).
The preface written by the series’ editors was removed (a loss, I think) and the author’s introduction (i.e., Chapter 1) was expanded, but not dramatically; Chapter 16, “Appreciation”, is now subdivided into two parts, “The West” and “The Soviet Union”, and was expanded from (roughly) one to six pages (the part on Keynes was lifted from former Section 4.3, though). Chapter 7 on “Chuprov and Other Scientists” saw the most changes. All the short biographies of scientists Chuprov was in contact with were expanded, sometimes considerably so, but new material was added beyond that (e.g., Section 7.3 on Bortkiewics has about two pages worth of new material, Section 7.4 on Slutsky has three pages worth, including a letter that forms the new subsection 7.4.5., and Section 7.5 on Romanovsky two pages worth including the new subsection 7.5.3).
Though with the same company, the book is no longer vol. 38 of the series in “Applied Statistics and Econometrics” but is published under the recent imprint “V&R unipress”. It’s hard-bound now and the typesetting received a facelifting; with mixed results, though. The slightly darker tint of the pages is very gentle on the eyes and the layout has much gained from the new typesetting of formulas and equations; footnotes, however, were converted into endnotes, forcing the reader constantly to go back and forth. The pictures became worse; they are overall darker and, blown up to fill a whole page, reveal the pixelated structure of their low-res originals. The detailed bibliography, which reflects the passion the author has for his subject, is no longer subdivided into three but into two parts: “Chuprov” and “Other Authors”; the listing of items and reference to them in the text is no longer based on numbers but on author name and publication year. The transition has resulted in some mistakes (e.g., (Fels 1978) is listed under Chetverikov on p. 190 and (Strecker 1960, 2001) under Slutsky on p. 197 instead of under Anderson on p. 188). When the author quotes from handwritten sources, what the second edition had put into quotation marks now shows as underlined; both editions show some discrepancies, however, as to what words are highlighted this way (e.g., the “but” on p. 149). Even though the English still feels “wooden” in many places, it’s much improved over the first edition.
The research that went into this book is amazing, it feels like a life’s work. Overall I’m inclined to belief that this work has found a better home between its new two covers.

MSC:

01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies
01A55 History of mathematics in the 19th century
01A60 History of mathematics in the 20th century
62-03 History of statistics
62A01 Foundations and philosophical topics in statistics
60-03 History of probability theory

Biographic References:

Chuprov, Alexandr A.
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