Julia Robinson and Hilbert's Tenth Problem

The College Mathematics Journal Vol. 40, No. 4, September 2009

[...] George Csicsery has filmed a loving tribute to Julia Robinson and a testament to her ability to transform adversity into creative triumph. Here is a film that's sure to inspire mathematics students of all ages and genders. And perhaps-just perhaps-JR & H10 will inspire a new generation of filmmakers to tell richer, fuller, truer stories about the lives of mathematicians, male and female. (Margaret A.M. Murray)

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Video Librarian July/August 2008

(2008) 54 min. DVD: $29.95: individuals; $149: institutions.
Zala Films. PPR. ISBN: 978-097245885-6

Higher mathematics is a very rarefied subject. Despite experts' efforts here to explain the 10th problem posed in 1900 by mathematician David Hilbert (namely: whether a general algorithm can be devised to decide the solvability of Diophantine equations), the question is likely to still be impenetrable to non-specialists at the end of this hour-shy documentary. But even though many will find it hard to grasp the mathematical side of George Csicsery's Julia Robinson and Hilbert's Tenth Problem, viewers will surely appreciate the narrative, which traces the career of Julia Robinson (1919-1985), a pioneer among American women in the field, who not only devoted her life to H10 (as it's called), but was instrumental in finding the negative solution articulated by Yuri Matiyasevich, with whom she developed a professional friendship at a time when associations between Americans and Russians were discouraged. Robinson's story is told with affection and respect, backed by a wide array of archival footage, stills, and recordings, as well as recollections from other mathematicians, and—especially—reminiscences by her sister Constance Reid (author of a biography on Robinson), who provides a warm personal touch. Although this documentary may appeal most to specialists and students in the field—especially since five of the six bonus featurettes on the DVD are on mathematical subjects (the sixth is on Reid)—general viewers will also appreciate this engaging portrait of a gentle and unassuming woman of prodigious natural gifts who opened academic doors previously closed to the fairer sex. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (F. Swietek)


Notices of the American Mathematical Society May 2008

Csicsery intertwines for us a human story and a mathematical story. In Julia Robinson we find a mathematician who was a heroine in her own time and a role model for all time. It is a story of childhood, illness, love, marriage, disappointment, obsession, and triumph. It is filled with extraordinary instances of luck both good and bad... I can imagine that a general audience, such as viewers of the NOVA series on PBS, would also be captivated by the story.
—Carol Wood, Professor of Mathematics at Wesleyan University

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George Paul Csicsery
Zala Films
PO Box 22833, Oakland, CA 94609 USA
Tel: +1 510 428-9284 / Fax: +1 510 428-9273
Email: geocsi@zalafilms.com

© 2004- George Csicsery