Paul Sally bigraphy, stories - Mathematician

Paul Sally : biography

January 29, 1933 -

Paul Joseph Sally, Jr. (born January 29, 1933)

is a professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, 

where he is the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

His research areas are p-adic analysis and representation theory.

He has created several programs at the University of Chicago to improve the preparation of school mathematics teachers. Paul Sally is seen by many as "a legendary math professor at the University of Chicago".

Selected publications


Sally joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1965 and has been there ever since. He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study from 1967-68, 1971-72, 1981-82, and 1983-84. While at the IAS he collaborated with Joseph Shalika.Sally, P. J., Jr.; Shalika, J. A. (1968). Characters of the discrete series of representations of SL(2) over a local field. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. In 1983, he became the first director of the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, which is responsible for the Everyday Mathematics program (also called "Chicago math"). He founded Seminars for Elementary Specialists and Mathematics Educators (SESAME) in 1992. He co-founded the Young Scholars Program with Dr. Diane Herrmann in 1988, providing mathematical enrichment for gifted Chicago-area students in grades 7–12.

Life and education

Sally was born in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston on January 29, 1933. He was a star basketball player at Boston College High School. He received his BS and MS degrees from Boston College in 1954 and 1956. After a short career in Boston area high schools and at Boston College he entered the first class of mathematics graduate students at Brandeis in 1957 and received his Ph.D. in 1965. During his graduate career he married Judith D. Sally and had three children in three years. The oldest David is a Visiting Associate Professor of Business Administration at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Stephen is a partner at Ropes & Gray, and the youngest Paul is Assistant Superintendent For Curriculum and Instruction at New Trier High School

Sally has been a type 1 diabetic since he was fifteen.

He wears an eye patch and has two prosthetic legs, which has caused him to be widely referred to as "Professor Pirate", and "The Math Pirate" around the University of Chicago campus. He is known to detest cell phones in class and has destroyed several over the years by inviting students to stomp on them or by throwing them out of a window.


  • Amoco Foundation Award for Long-Term Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 1995
  • American Mathematical Society Distinguished Service Award, 2000
  • Deborah and Franklin Haimo Awards for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics of the Mathematical Association of America, 2002
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