MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In an opinion piece which appeared in the AMS Notices of January 2010, John Wermer tells us that he once heard about a seminar given by Grothendieck which was described as "a telegram by Grothendieck to Serre". Is this anecdote recorded somewhere?

share|cite|improve this question
Try the Grothendieck Circle website of Leila Schneps. If everything fails, you could write and ask her. – Anweshi Jan 8 '10 at 2:37
To clarify: Mariano seems to be referring to a verbal communication, not a written letter. Presumably, no one else in the audience could or was meant to understand. – S. Carnahan Jan 8 '10 at 17:31
Is this not a soft question? – Anweshi Jan 8 '10 at 20:07
up vote 14 down vote accepted

I think I heard Grothendieck's talk at the 1958 ICM described as a "a telegram by Grothendieck to Serre". But this would have been in a conversation (with neither Serre nor Grothendieck). I don't know whether anyone said it in a lecture, much less wrote it down.

MR0130879 (24 #A733) Grothendieck, Alexander The cohomology theory of abstract algebraic varieties. 1960 Proc. Internat. Congress Math. (Edinburgh, 1958) pp. 103--118 Cambridge Univ. Press, New York

Added: I don't know who first described Grothendieck's 1958 ICM talk as a "telegram to Serre", but I probably heard it from Lubin. Since Lubin and the article's author spent their careers at Brown, this fits.

Grothendieck's talk is available here. In it he lays out his plans for schemes and their cohomology. In 1958, not many people would have understood it.

share|cite|improve this answer
Now it is also available here : $$ $$ – Chandan Singh Dalawat Jan 6 '11 at 14:07

You might want to know that a book exists, which consists of correspondences between Serre and Grothendieck. Its Google-Books link is this.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.