How the Fall of Communism Changed Mathematics in the U.S.

How the Fall of Communism Changed Mathematics in the U.S.

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The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 brought an influx of Soviet mathematicians to U.S. institutions, and those scholars’ differing areas of specialization have changed the way math is studied and taught in this country, according to new research by University of Notre Dame Economist Kirk Doran and George Borjas from Harvard University.

Results of the study suggest that the sudden shift in specialized areas not only was related to a decline in the productivity of American mathematicians whose areas of specialty most overlapped with that of the Soviets, but it also reduced the likelihood of a competing American mathematician producing a top research paper. Similarly, marginal American mathematicians became much more likely to transfer to lower ranked institutions and to significantly reduce their research and scholarship.

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