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Russian Mathematics Textbook

  1. Jan 27, 2017 #1
    I have been learning how to read scientific Russian, and my reading material is the Soviet high school math textbook Algebra and Beginning Analysis, (1976), edited by Kolmogorov. (I've seen the title also translated as Algebra and Elements of Analysis). The Russian title is Алгебра и Начала Анализа. This book was for grade 9 in the Russian system. I hope what follows will give something to compare when discussing math education in the USA.

    First, to remove any political connotations, I will say "Russian" and not "Soviet." Second, I am not making any political statements. My concern is for education. I invite any forum members who have a first-hand knowledge of the Soviet high school to suggest corrections.

    To provide some background information: the Russian schools were on a 4-3-3 system, meaning 4 years of primary, 3 years of middle school, and 3 years of high school. First grade started at age 7. The first thing to notice is that in 10 years of pre-university education, much more was taught in math than in the American system, which lasts 12 years, and teaches far less. (I have read that the Russians added another year sometime in the 1980s.)

    Also, AFAIK every standard Russian school had the same curriculum. Of course not every student graduated. Over the years, more efforts were being made to have better opportunities aside from university preparation. I believe there were special schools if you had a talent in some area, but I don't know the details.

    AFAIK there was no shortage of qualified STEM teachers. Apparently teachers were respected and even honored. I don't know about the pay. There was discipline, but that did not mean corporal punishment, which was outlawed.

    Now on to the textbook. The cover measures 22 x 14.5 cm. It is hardcover, but the cover is very lightweight. I am impressed by this combination of light weight and durability. There are 222 pages. It is very comfortable to carry around and hold in one hand. I don't know about other Russian textbooks, but if they were all this size and weight, then kids could carry around a small backpack full of their books for the day, and not suffer as American kids do today with their overloaded backpacks.

    The price, which is printed on the back cover, is 25 kopecks. 100 kopecks makes a ruble. The exchange rate was approximately 1 USD = 0.63 rubles = 63 kopecks. So 25 kopecks = 40 cents US. There were 10 and 15 kopeck coins, so one of each would have paid for this textbook. AFAIK the average salary for a construction worker was about $200 per month, and a loaf of bread cost 30 cents US. Of course prices were fixed, and the emphasis was on making the staples very cheap. (I got the exchange rate and the other information about wages and prices from a website. I don't vouch for them. Maybe someone who lived there can verify.)

    I am busy now, but I will post lots of information about the content, and some images I scanned from the book, in a follow-up post later today. But I wanted to start with the above information, because it already invites contrast with the US textbooks of today.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2017 #2
    Here's my follow-up about Algebra and Beginning Analysis for Russian high schools, grade 9 (age 15), from 1976.

    The editor A. N. Kolmogorov was a famous mathematician. He was leader of the so-called "Kolmogorov Reform" in Russian mathematics. In addition to Kolmogorov there were four other authors who are credited. They are B. E. Veitz, I. T. Demidov, O. S. Ivashev-Musatov, and S. I. Shvartzburd.

    This book has 6 chapters for a total of 74 sections. The chapter titles are:

    1. principle of mathematical induction
    2. elements of combinatorics
    3. real numbers, infinite sequences and their limits
    4. limit of a function and the derivative
    5. applications of the derivative
    6. trigonometric functions, their graphs and derivatives
    Here are some images.

    • front cover
    • inside front cover
    • pages 94-95 from chapter 4
    http://imgur.com/a/RnKbx
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2017
  4. Mar 14, 2017 #3
    in Russian high-school math education to be correct

    Пособие по математике для поступающих в вузы. Дорофеев Г.В., Потапов М.К., Розов Н.Х. -- was a very popular textbook for preparing for entry exams into dept. of mechanics and math. of Moscow State Univ. in 1970-1980s You can easily find the djvu version.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
  5. Apr 19, 2017 #4

    mathwonk

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    wel one thing that jumps out at me is that the author, or editor, Kolmogorov, was a famous research mathematician, whereas in the US, high school texts are seldom written by such highly qualified people. If you look carefully into it, you will learn that in the US, as education became more and more universal, the difficulty level and quality of mat texts gradually dropoped over the past 120 years or so. There were actually some quite good high school algebra books in use in the US long ago, e.g. the original one by David Eugene Smith.
     
  6. Apr 20, 2017 #5
    perhaps it will make you surprised if I say that Kolmogorov was not a sole prominent Russian mathematician who worked with high school education.
    It is long story to explain why it was so.
    American postgraduate textbooks are very better than Russian ones I guess. For example Partial Differential Equations by M. Taylor (3 volumes)
    I also very like this book http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471317160.html
     
  7. Apr 20, 2017 #6

    BvU

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  8. Apr 20, 2017 #7
    i have not understood
    you can find both books I mentioned as djvu in the internet
     
  9. Apr 20, 2017 #8

    BvU

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    What if I am interested in the story (but admittedly too lazy to go out and hunt for it... :rolleyes:)
     
  10. Apr 20, 2017 #9
    then I should explain what was communist ideology in Russia, what was the Soviet Union and many other things like that. This forum is not for such things is not it?
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
  11. Apr 20, 2017 #10

    BvU

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    I agree.
     
  12. Apr 20, 2017 #11

    Dr Transport

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    It is so expensive because people steal it and post it online for free. in addition to that, publishers are an unregulated business, they can charge pretty much anything they want for anything they publish and what ever the market will bear. Realize, these books are written and they may only sell a few thousand copies, so they try to recoup all of their expenses.
     
  13. Apr 20, 2017 #12
  14. Apr 21, 2017 #13

    mathwonk

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  15. Apr 21, 2017 #14

    WWGD

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    These Dover books start at around $7.95 or so and seem to climb a few $ every year-or-so, ending up near $20 in some 5-6 years. I can't see why the climb in price is so steep.
     
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