Paul Sally

Paul Joseph Sally, Jr. (January 29, 1933 – December 30, 2013) was a professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago,[1] where he was the Director of Undergraduate Studies for 30 years.[2][3] His research areas were p-adic analysis and representation theory.[4]

Paul Sally
Paul Sally in 2008
Paul Joseph Sally, Jr.

(1933-01-29)January 29, 1933
DiedDecember 30, 2013(2013-12-30) (aged 80)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materBoston College (B.S., M.S.)
Brandeis University (PhD)
Known forMathematics education
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
Doctoral advisorRay Kunze

He created several programs to improve the preparation of school mathematics teachers, and was seen by many as "a legendary math professor at the University of Chicago".[5]

Life and education

Sally was born in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts on January 29, 1933.[6][7] He was a star basketball player at Boston College High School.[4][7] He received his BS and MS degrees from Boston College in 1954 and 1956.[8]

After a short career in Boston area high schools and at Boston College[9] he entered the first class of mathematics graduate students at Brandeis in 1957 [4] and earned his PhD in 1965.[6] During his graduate career he married Judith D. Sally and had three children in three years. David, the oldest, is a Visiting Associate Professor of Business Administration at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College,[4][10] Stephen is a partner at Ropes & Gray,[4][11] and Paul, the youngest, is Superintendent at New Trier High School.[4][12]

Sally was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1948.[13] He wore an eye patch and had two prosthetic legs, which caused him to be widely referred to as "Professor Pirate," and "The Math Pirate" around the University of Chicago campus.[7] He was 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.[4]


Sally joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1965 and taught there until his death.[4] He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study from 1967–68, 1971–72, 1981–82, and 1983-84.[14]

While at the IAS he collaborated with Joseph Shalika.[15] 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").[4]

He founded Seminars for Elementary Specialists and Mathematics Educators (SESAME) in 1992.[4] 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.[4][16]


Sally died December 30, 2013, aged 80, from congestive heart failure, at the University of Chicago Hospital.[2][17][18]


Selected publications

  • Sally, P.J., Jr.; Shalika, J.A. (1968). "Characters of the discrete series of representations of SL(2) over a local field". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 61 (4): 1231–1237. Bibcode:1968PNAS...61.1231S. doi:10.1073/pnas.61.4.1231. PMC 225245. PMID 16591722.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Sally, Judith (2003). Trimathlon: A Workout Beyond the School Curriculum. AK Peters, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-56881-184-0.
  • Sally, Jr., Paul J.; Diane L. Herrmann (2004). Number, Shape and Symmetry: an Introduction to Mathematics. Pacific Grove: Brooks Cole. ISBN 0-534-40539-8.
  • Sally, Jr., Paul J.; Diane L. Herrmann (2005). Number Theory and Geometry for College Students. Pacific Grove: Brooks Cole. ISBN 0-534-40536-3.
  • Sally, Judith (2007). Roots to Research: A Vertical Development of Mathematical Problems. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society. ISBN 978-0-8218-4403-8.[22]
  • Sally, Jr., Paul J. (2008). Tools of the Trade: Introduction to Advanced Mathematics. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society. ISBN 978-0-8218-4634-6.


  1. "Department of Mathematics: People". University of Chicago. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  2. Crane, Joy (2013-12-30). "Paul Sally, influential math professor, dies at 80". Chicago Maroon. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
  3. "Department of Mathematics: About". University of Chicago. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  4. Golus, Carrie (May–June 2008). "Sally marks the spot". University of Chicago Magazine. 100 (4). Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  5. Billy Baker (2008-04-28). "A life of unexpected twists takes her from farm to math department". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  6. "Biographies of Candidates" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society. 49 (8): 970–81. September 2002. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  7. Billy Baker (2007-10-01). "The powerhouse 'pirate' of the math classroom". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  8. Steele, Diana (1995-05-25). "Amoco Teaching Award: Paul Sally". University of Chicago Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  9. "Sally Award". Boston College. Retrieved 2008-09-17.
  10. "Tuck School of Business Faculty Directory". Dartmouth College. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  11. "Ropes & Gray Professional Directory". Ropes & Gray. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  12. "New Trier High School Staff Directory". New Trier High School. Archived from the original on 2011-01-25. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  13. Shaw, Susan (March 2004). "Keeping Your Toes & Feet Healthy". Diabetes Health. Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  14. "Past Members Alphabetical: S | IAS School of Mathematics". Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  15. Sally Jr, P. J.; Shalika, J.A. (1968). "Characters of the discrete series of representations of SL(2) over a local field". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 61 (4): 1231–1237. doi:10.1073/pnas.61.4.1231. PMC 225245. PMID 16591722.
  16. "Paul Sally Gives the Arnold Ross Lecture" (PDF). AMS Member Newsletter. American Mathematical Society: 4. Winter 2004. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  17. Paul Sally Jr. Obituary, Chicago Tribune, retrieved 2014-01-01.
  18. "Chicago Tribune Obituary". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  19. Koppes, Steve (2003-01-23). "Sally says students need more than math 'appreciation'". University of Chicago Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  20. "Mathematical Association of America: Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Awards for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics" (PDF). January 2002 Prizes and Awards. San Diego, CA: Joint Mathematics Meetings. 2002-01-07. pp. 36–40. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
  21. List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society;, retrieved 2013-07-11.
  22. Holdener, Judy (October 2009). "Review: Roots to Research: A Vertical Development of Mathematical Problems by Judith Sally and Paul J. Sally, Jr". Amer. Math. Monthly. 116 (8): 754–758. doi:10.4169/193009709X460921. JSTOR 40391219.
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