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I have recently been told of a proposal to produce an English translation of Landau's Handbuch der Lehre von der Verteilung der Primzahlen, and this prompts me to ask a more general question:

Which foreign-language books would you most like to see translated into English?

These could be classics of historical interest, books you would like your students to read, books you would like to teach from, or books of use in your own research.

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    $\begingroup$ The Russian translation of Milnor's Morse Theory. That's a nice book. :) $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 0:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have both the original and the Russian translation. They're not quite the same -- the translation (that I have anyhow) has more examples and figures. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 0:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I also have both of them! And I've just check (fast checking) that pictures are absolutely same. Russian version contains small attachments (by Anosov), but they are not... as good as the book and really short, few pages. You know, translation should be a translation (I am sure Arnol'd could add smth interesting to Milnor, I am a student of V.I., but it is not the case). $\endgroup$
    – Petya
    Mar 11, 2010 at 0:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ At least I understood a meaning of your smile! $\endgroup$
    – Petya
    Mar 11, 2010 at 0:49
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    $\begingroup$ Another interesting question along these lines: which books "lose" the most in translation? I can't read Russian, but apparently Kostrikin's "Around Burnside" is like that. $\endgroup$
    – Steve D
    Mar 11, 2010 at 2:32

64 Answers 64

95
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Grothendieck's EGA and SGA.

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    $\begingroup$ I can't help but think: if you can't manage to pick up very simple mathematical French, what hope do you have to learn Grothendieck-style algebraic geometry? These are not books for people with poor language acquisition skills. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 2:55
  • 19
    $\begingroup$ Pete: I somehow suspect Dmitri does have good language acquisition skills. Dmitri: Трудно читать математические книги по-французски? $\endgroup$
    – KConrad
    Mar 11, 2010 at 3:32
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    $\begingroup$ I doubt that EGA or SGA will ever get translated given how long they are and how much background knowledge a translator would need to do a good job. However, even though I can read mathematical French (and German, for that matter) just fine, it goes a lot slower than English. I have to devote a portion of my mental powers to translating, and thus I can't be thinking about the math as deeply as I would otherwise! If somehow a translation got produced, it would make this whole process a lot easier. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 4:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Pete and KConrad: I fully agree with Andy Putnam on this matter. I can read mathematical French without too much difficulty, but it goes slower than English and requires additional mental effort. @Shizhuo: Only the introduction to EGA I was translated into Russian. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ @ Pete: most people who read EGA/SGA aren't native speakers of French. Even if it's not too difficult for any individual to translate, we are collectively wasting a lot of effort on repeated translations. $\endgroup$
    – user1504
    Mar 11, 2010 at 16:31
36
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The other two volumes of Kazuya Kato's trilogy on Number Theory (the first vol. is "Fermat's Dream").

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    $\begingroup$ I only regret that I have but one +1 to give to this entry. $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2010 at 5:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's +10 from me, too. $\endgroup$
    – Alon Amit
    Mar 12, 2010 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ It is at least translated to one other foreign language than Japanese. $\endgroup$
    – 7-adic
    Apr 9, 2010 at 10:53
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The second one appeared recently in 2011- hopefully this means that work on the third one is in progress... $\endgroup$
    – sisn
    May 6, 2012 at 8:58
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The third volume Number Theory 3: Iwasawa Theory and Modular Forms (Translations of Mathematical Monographs) was published in 2012 $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2014 at 14:58
28
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"Champs algébriques" by Laumon and Moret-Bailly.

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25
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Gabriel's dissertation,Serre's FAC and Beilinson-Bernstein-Deligne

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20
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Oh my. Since English is already so overwhelming in international scientific literature, I think it will look a bit peculiar to the non-native English speakers who read this site to see a question like this asking for yet more work to be put in English. Perhaps those of us who already speak that language should expend some more effort in the other direction if we want to read something in those other languages.

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    $\begingroup$ No, actually "non-native English speakers" would like more English translations as well. It's hard enough to learn one foreign language - learning few more just to be able to read mathematical literature feels like waste. Since just about everything is either written or already translated into English, it would be really nice to have the rest. Of course, I am not complaining - there are so many great translations into Russian I rarely see books not available in either language. In fact, there used to be even a journal with Russian translations of the best contemporary math papers... $\endgroup$
    – Igor Pak
    Mar 11, 2010 at 3:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, thank you! Actually it doesn't bother me too much that books be translated into English. I'm more concerned by the fact that fewer and fewer books are written in another language. Especially when we end up with books or articles written in a pretty bad English (meaning that even a French guy may notice something's wrong). By the way, I've always wondered: do native English speakers prefer bad English or say French (or German, etc.)? $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 15:56
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ If there is a choice available, I'd think most people would prefer something in their own language that has grammatical errors over having to read a language they are not comfortable with, particularly if the ultimate point is to get out some kind of information (like math content) rather than being concerned over the writing style itself. $\endgroup$
    – KConrad
    Mar 11, 2010 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ I might be strange but I find mathematics much easier to comprehend in English than in Russian, although Russian is my mother tongue and I speak/read/write it as fluently as anyone else. English is only the third and yet time after times it wins as far as mathematics is concerned. Maybe that's because I studied mathematics in a Western environment?... Anybody else has similar experiences? $\endgroup$ May 3, 2012 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ @FelixGoldberg Even though Russian is my first language, I prefer to do math in English. After getting my PhD in the US I frankly don't even know how some terms translate into Russian. It would be difficult for me to give a mathematics lecture in Russian. $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2014 at 20:24
19
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"La Clef des Songes", "Récoltes et Semailles" and the Long March through Galois Theory.

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    $\begingroup$ I am afraid these are (mathematically) of anecdotical interest and that Grothendieck has again recently vetoed translations and publications in any form of his magnus opus. $\endgroup$
    – ogerard
    May 21, 2010 at 7:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I respectfully doubt the Long March through Galois Theory is of anecdotal mathematical interest. $\endgroup$
    – Arrow
    Nov 13, 2017 at 22:04
17
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Hanspeter Kraft's invariant theory book.

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2
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ At least this one is available in Russian (see MR0917727). $\endgroup$
    – Igor Pak
    Mar 11, 2010 at 3:44
  • $\begingroup$ Yuri referenced this book in a partial draft of a paper that he's written (I'm guessing he read the Russian version). I'm sure he'd be happy to talk about it. $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2010 at 6:35
17
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G.M. Fichtenholz - Analysis (3 Tomes) - The course of real analysis for budding mathematicians beyond the Iron Curtain. Everyone knows it. It's the first book you read, and the last one you refer to before finishing your master's degree. It takes you from the definition of a set to advanced multivariate calculus; it gives you a lot of tools for classical mechanics in the meantime. It is so trustworthy that the single wrong theorem that it contained caused a telltale student to fail his dissertation, because neither he nor his professor checked the proof and they based the whole thesis on the false premise - that was a decade or two ago and the book is, right now, free of errors. Originally in Russian. Another book that kept the Russians strong during the cold war. Wikipedia entry about the author

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10
  • $\begingroup$ absolutely agreed! $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2010 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, as a student from Poland (where Fichtenholz is also one of the standard calculus textbooks), I find the book rather old-fashioned (and at the same time somewhat verbose). $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2010 at 14:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If I recall correctly Fichtenholz has defected to the West. There is shorten two volume English version of his Analysis. However, I would cold-heartedly agree that Russian version is far better. I would also agree that his books are somewhat outdated. My favorite work for the first/second year Analysis undergraduate course (Eastern European version of Calc 1-3) is Vladimir Zorich's two volume book. From the pedagogical point of view Fichtenholz books are far more appropriate for gifted high-school students. $\endgroup$ Jul 19, 2010 at 7:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @PredragPunosevac Actually, Fichtenholz has never defected to the West. On the opposite, he was quite established in the Soviet Union, was the Chair of the Department of Mathematical Analysis at Leningrad State University, and had several state awards. $\endgroup$
    – mathreader
    Jun 28, 2015 at 12:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry, which theorem you were referring to was false? I need the section number and the statement of the theorem so that I can find it in a Chinese translation (a translation of Fizmatlit publishers Russia 2003). $\endgroup$
    – user20948
    Oct 15, 2019 at 15:58
14
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Endliche Gruppen by Huppert, though the German is like the French in EGA: "easy" going.

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I'd second Allen Knutson's suggestion that the book Geometrische Methoden in der Invariantentheorie by Hanspeter Kraft (Vieweg, 1984) is a good candidate for translation into English. Since AMS distributes several Vieweg series in English versions, I'd suggest asking Sergei Gelfand at AMS whether such a translation could be commissioned by them.

Like most native users of English, I find mathematical French far easier than mathematical German. In any event, French books and papers are less likely to get translated than German ones. As far as books go, I regret that J.C. Jantzen's useful Springer Ergebnisse volume on primitive ideals in enveloping algebras is not available in English. His later books in English have become standard references for representations of algebraic groups and for quantized enveloping algebras.

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    $\begingroup$ It's fun to make a wish list, but in real life it's hard to justify the cost of translating an advanced book for a limited market. It's always tricky to find a translator with the right mathematical as well as linguistic background, lacking which a reader may be better off struggling with the original book. $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2010 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ Huge cheers for Jantzen! Not only is it not available in English, but I spent $\textit{decades}$ trying to acquire a copy - it's been out of print forever and if you go to Springer website and check Ergebnisse series, vol 3 simply does not exist! Springer & Lange (Berlin) promised to track one for me, Springer (NY) people at the JMM claimed that it would be trivial to get it, or that the volks in Springer (Heidelberg) could do it... Bottom line: it's the math book I've read the most in my life, and I still don't own it. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2010 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ On the subject of "struggling", I might add that I've practically learned all my mathematical German ploughing through Jantzen. I've also heard from a German colleague that it's written in a good language. $\endgroup$ May 21, 2010 at 4:48
14
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Fricke and Klein.

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As far as I know, none of Wilhelm Blaschke's books have ever been published in English, and he is the the author of possibly the most exciting and elegant serious mathematics books that I've ever encountered (comparable to the best of Felix Klein, but on a much higher mathematical level). I especially regret that his

Einführung in die Differentialgeometrie (1950; 2nd ed with Reichardt, 1960)

and

Elementare Differentialgeometrie (5th edition with Leichweiss, 1973)

have not been available, but really, all his books, from the elementary "Kreis und Kugel" to the state-of-the-art research "Geometrie der Gewebe" are incredible. Fortunately, most of them have been translated into Russian.

Does anyone know a credible explanation of why he was completely ignored in the English-speaking world? Anything to do with WWII? Although even Hasse got translated.

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  • $\begingroup$ + "Kreis und Kugel" $\endgroup$ Aug 24, 2011 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ As to why Blaschke has not been translated - surely one reason is that the topics he wrote about, such as web geometry or affine differential geometry, have been "unfashionable" (the quotes refer to a preprint of Burstall) in the English speaking world - i.e. US/UK. As you allude to, he was also the president of the Deutsche Mathematiker Vereingigung in the mid to late 1930s, and although was apparently not so aggressive as someone like Bieberbach, was a Nazi party member and by most accounts a supporter of that state. This surely had an effect. Teichmuller has also not been translated. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Fox
    Jan 3, 2012 at 9:07
12
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Don Zagier's German book about quadratic forms.

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    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, I am working on a book on quadratic forms that will at least present Zagier's reduction theory in English. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ That's great to hear. $\endgroup$
    – Anonymous
    Mar 11, 2010 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ The book is called "Zetafunktionen und quadratische Körper" $\endgroup$
    – Stopple
    Oct 21, 2010 at 21:52
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ A version of Franz Lemmermeyer's book can be found on his website here rzuser.uni-heidelberg.de/~hb3/publ/bf.pdf $\endgroup$
    – j.c.
    Nov 13, 2017 at 22:22
11
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Analysis Situs by Poincare.

This is the foundation of algebraic topology and illustrates its historical connection with dynamics.

According to Wikipedia it has been translated, but I can't find a copy in English.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know which translation the Wikipedia is referring to, but I have a translation of Analysis situs (together with the five Complements) which is going to be published by the AMS soon. You can access a preliminary version of it on Andrew Ranicki's page: maths.ed.ac.uk/~aar/surgery/notes.htm (near the bottom of the page). $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ Wow! I was half-hoping that someone would comment with this response. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2010 at 22:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Here is the current listing at the AMS bookstore: e-math.ams.org/bookstore-getitem/item=hmath-37 $\endgroup$ May 5, 2011 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ I think I have an old copy back in my library on another continent... $\endgroup$ May 3, 2012 at 0:09
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Abel's complete works.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that Abel's works are an excellent candidate. Like Riemann's, they are of stellar quality and not too long. In the meantime, you may be interested in the lengthy survey of Abel's work by Christian Houzel, which may be downloaded from the page: abelprisen.no/en/abel/fagligbiografi.html $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2010 at 23:06
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Groupes Algebriques by Demazure and Gabriel. Someone tried to translate the first half of this book, but it's not very good (some of the mathematics is incorrect too).

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8
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Gesammelte Abhandlungen (Collected Works) of Carl Ludwig Siegel

(According to Amazon.com a trilingual version of this once existed, but I can't find it.)

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1
  • $\begingroup$ Siegel also has excellent lecture notes on analytic number theory, quadratic forms, complex analysis etc. $\endgroup$ Jul 19, 2010 at 12:13
8
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Chebotarev's "Grundzüge der Galois'schen Theorie"

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8
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G. Banaszak, W. Gajda - Elementy Algebry Liniowej (Elements of Linear Algebra), Poland, WNT - 2 tomes - Don't let the name fool you. This recent publication has more linear algebra than you can shake a stick at. It's a very comprehensive course of linear, and some abstract, algebra; very beautifully printed, lots of decorative markup. The book is very well structured, but is not easy and requires the reader to be fully aware of what's going on. It can be a bit of a mind wringer, but on the other hand that can force you to look at many things from the writers' - quite original sometimes - viewpoint. Tome 1 on the publisher's website

This is just a quick round-up of some good books in Mathematics. Hope this helps!

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    $\begingroup$ Very interesting suggestions! While on the subject of "more linear algebra than you can shake a stick at", I'd like to mention Brieskorn's Lineare Algebra und Analytische Geometrie, volumes I and II (Vieweg 1983, 1985). This is the most fascinating linear algebra book I've ever seen, but very long and rambling. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2010 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ Another book I almost included in this list: Dieudonne - Treatise on Analysis Haven't included it because there's a (discontinued) translation to English from the 70s. Huge book: some editions have more than ten tomes. Huge amount of knowledge. All organized nicely in an easily understood structure, with hints on how to most quickly arrive at a certain theorem. Read it all and you'll know analysis the way a PhD student should. Dieudonne is the (often forgotten) co-author of Grothendieck's Éléments de géométrie algébrique - if one likes EGA, they'll enjoy this book as well. $\endgroup$
    – cheater
    Apr 11, 2010 at 14:04
  • $\begingroup$ I have split out this answer into separate ones for each book - John Stillwell's comment was originally for all of them in one answer. $\endgroup$
    – cheater
    Apr 12, 2010 at 11:02
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[Another answer contains this suggestion, but it's at the end of the answer and no details are given.]

I would rather like to read Kostrikin's Introduction to Algebra (the 2nd edition, published in 2000: Кострикин – Введение в алгебру). It is in 3 volumes: 'Basic algebra', 'Linear algebra', and 'Fundamental structures of algebra'. Approximately, they cover:

I – preliminaries, matrices & determinants, basics of groups rings & fields, complex & real polynomials

II – vector spaces & linear operators, euclidean hermitian affine & projective spaces, tensors

III – structures of various groups, basic representation theory, rings modules & algebras, Galois theory

The book begins with a discussion about what algebra is, a historical overview, and a set of substantial problems that can be solved with algebra as motivation. Each volume contains a number of figures (67 in total), many applications, and a discussion of open problems (e.g. the convergence of Newton's method, finite projective planes, the inverse Galois problem).

From the Zentralblatt review: "The distinguishing features of the book are the following ones: 1) clearness, clarity and compactness of exposition; 2) the concentric style of presentation; 3) variety of skilfully selected examples (from very simple to very complex ones)."

[Note that the 1st edition was translated, but it is about a third as long and covers far less.]

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"Arithmetique Des Algebres De Quaternions" by MF Vigneras

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I.N. Bronstein, K.A. Semyendayev - Mathematics Handbook - an awesome, very complete mathematics handbook for applied mathematicians, physicists, and engineers. Also useful for the pure mathematics researcher who just wants to quickly look up how a basic item in mathematics worked. This work has not lost any of its gleam since it was first written; numerous updates have been made; it is the reference compendium in Central and Eastern Europe. It has received prizes for being the best illustrated engineering book; indeed, the drawings are exact and even beautiful, and have not become outdated in the time of computer generated imagery. Definitely one of the books that put the Russians in outer space. Numerous German editions of the book on Amazon

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The following wonderful 54 page survey by O. Neumann on Kronecker's divisor theory could easily be turned into a book and would fill a very large gap in the English literature on such. I'm interested in helping if anyone is game for such (but, alas, my German is weak).

Neumann, O.(D-FSU-MI) 2003k:13021 13F05 (01A55 13G05 20M14)
Was sollen und was sind Divisoren? (German. German summary)
[What are divisors and what can we do with them?]
Math. Semesterber. * 48 (2002), no. 2, 139--192.

In the first part of this paper a survey is given of the development of Kronecker's theory of divisors. In the second part the author develops a theory of integral domains $R$ having a divisor theory in the following sense: there exists a monoid $D$ (i.e., a commutative semigroup with cancellation and a unit element) with the GCD-property for the associated group $G$ of quotients, and a homomorphism $\mathrm{div}$ of the multiplicative group $K^*$ of the quotient field of $R$ into $G$ with the following two properties:

(i) If $a,b \in K^*$ and $b/a \in R$, then $\mathrm{div}(b)/\mathrm{div}(a) \in D$, and

(ii) for every element $d \in D$ there exists a set $A \subseteq K^*$
such that $d$ is the gcd of $\{\mathrm{div}(a) : a \in A\}$.

The author states that a similar theory was presented in the thesis of F. Lucius ["Ringe mit einer Theorie des groessten gemeinsamen Teilers", Ph.D. thesis, Univ. Gottingen, Gottingen, 1996; Zbl 0901.13002]. After developing the fundamental properties of such divisor theory, relations to the approaches of Kronecker, Zolotarev and Dedekind are established.
--Reviewed by W. Narkiewicz

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Équations différentielles à points singuliers réguliers, by Deligne.

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Joseph Louis Lagrange - Reflexiones sur la Resolution Algebrique des Equations. I've found lots of discussions and summaries of its contents (e.g. in Harold Edwards' book on Galois theory) and little snippets translated here and there (e.g. in Mathematical Expeditions by Laubenbacher and Pengelley) but haven't been able to locate a complete translation.

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[original suggestion/answer by Andrew L]

Constantin Carathéodory's Vorlesungen über Reelle Funktionen. Why this book has never been translated into English is simply a mystery to me.

And while he's at it, let's get whoever's on that case to get Courant and Hurewitz's treatise on complex functions into English as well, so I can see finally if it's as good as Serge Lang always said it was...

2 last requests while I'm at it: Faddeev's 1984 Lectures In Algebra and the second edition of Kostrikin's 3 volume Introduction To Algebra. I'm such a sucker for Russian texts, they're so beautiful and concrete with connections to physics. We Westerners can learn so much from their approach.

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2
  • $\begingroup$ Why this book has never been translated into English is simply a mystery to me Solution to the mystery... it has been assumed until recent years that all serious mathematicians know German, French, and English. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2010 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ I know,Gerald-but that's never stopped some great German texts from being translated into English-such as Courant's calculus lectures or van der Wearden's algebra texts. That's no excuse,I'm sorry.And times have changed,for better or worse.The language requirement-again,for better or worse-is fading in importance. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2010 at 17:16
6
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B. P. Demidovich - Problems on Multivariate Analysis (approximate translation). A very tough book about analysis on $\mathbb{R}^n$; in fact all problems 'can' be solved by first- or second-year students, but it's got lots of tricky questions that will not let you sleep at night. Only the best need apply - the book gives you the most basic definitions and then throws you out with a broken pontoon in the middle of the ocean, at night. I believe the writer is Russian or Belorussian, I have only encountered a few tattered copies that have been doing the rounds between students for a decade at least. Haven't found a better book for tough multivariate analysis.

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    $\begingroup$ For every Demidovich there is an anti-Demidovich (proverb). $\endgroup$ May 21, 2010 at 4:09
  • $\begingroup$ Which brings us to the suggestion: Translate anti-Demidovič (Ljaško et al.). $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2010 at 5:37
5
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Geometrie der Gewebe by W. Blaschke, and G. Bol

Geradenkonfigurationen und algebraische Flächen by G. Barthel, F. Hirzebruch, and T. Höfer

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5
$\begingroup$

Bombieri's "Le Grand Crible dans la Théorie Analytique des Nombres"

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1
  • $\begingroup$ If there is any justice it should first be translated into Italian. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2015 at 13:27

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