The Mathematical Intelligencer

The Mathematical Intelligencer is a mathematical journal published by Springer Verlag that aims at a conversational and scholarly tone, rather than the technical and specialist tone more common among academic journals. Volumes are released quarterly with a subset of open access articles.[1] Springer also cross-publishes some of the articles in Scientific American. Marjorie Senechal is currently the editor-in-chief.

The Mathematical Intelligencer
Mathematical Intelligener cover, Winter 1994.jpg
Cover of Winter 1994 issue
Publication details
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4Math. Intell.
MathSciNetMath. Intelligencer


The journal was started informally in 1971 by Walter Kaufman-Buehler, Alice Peters and Klaus Peters.[2] "Intelligencer" was chosen by Kaufman-Buehler as a word that would appear slightly old-fashioned.[3] An exploration of mathematically themed stamps, written by Robin Wilson, became one of its earliest columns.[4] In 1978, the founders appointed Bruce Chandler and Harold Edwards Jr. to jointly serve in the role of editor-in-chief. Prior to 1978, articles of the Intelligencer were not contained in regular volumes and sent out sporadically to those on a mailing list.[5] To gauge interest, the inaugural mailing included twelve thousand people of whom four thousand requested further copies via postcard. One of them was from André Weil, mocking the presentation of the letter.[6] Articles from this period have been retroactively collected in "Volume 0".

Later editors-in-chief included John Ewing from 1979 to 1986, Sheldon Axler from 1987 to 1991 and Chandler Davis from 1991 to 2004.[6] Davis began to share editing responsibilities with long time Intelligencer author Marjorie Senechal until the former's retirement in 2013. During this time, the journal adopted online distribution and started requesting LaTeX submissions from prospective authors.[4]

The journal has been party to some publishing controversies during its history. One was a book review by Steven Krantz in 1989 which expanded to criticize research interest in fractals; "Fractal geometry has not solved any problems. It is not even clear that it has created any new ones." This prompted Benoit Mandelbrot to publish a rebuttal in the same journal.[7] The rebuttal format was initially planned for a paper by Theodore Hill and Sergei Tabachnikov on the variability hypothesis but in the end it was not published. Further controversy arose when a revised version of the paper, by Hill alone, was published by The New York Journal of Mathematics but then retracted without a notice.[8]


The Mathematical Intelligencer has been described as a magazine that publishes articles about front-line research rather than the research itself.[9]

In 2001, Branislav Kisacanin opined that the magazine belongs in "every good mathematics library".[10] Apart from the Intelligencer's main articles, a humor column written by mathematician Colin Adams has also been well received.[11]


  1. ^ Steckles, Katie (2016-11-25). "Maths Journals for an engaged Sixth Former". The Aperiodical. Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  2. ^ Senechal, Marjorie (2018). "The Mathematical Intelligencer Turns Forty!". The Mathematical Intelligencer. 40: 1–3. doi:10.1007/s00283-018-9791-9.
  3. ^ Senechal, Marjorie (2008). "Happy birthday!". The Mathematical Intelligencer. 30: 6. doi:10.1007/BF02985749.
  4. ^ a b "Interview with Marjorie Senechal". College of St Rose. 2007. Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  5. ^ Heinz Götze (2008). Springer-Verlag: History of a Scientific Publishing House. Springer. p. 319. ISBN 9783540928881. Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  6. ^ a b Senechal, Marjorie (2008). "Happy birthday!". The Mathematical Intelligencer. 30: 7–18. doi:10.1007/BF02985750.
  7. ^ Science at the Frontier, Volume 1. National Academy of Sciences. 1992. p. 63. ISBN 9780309045926.
  8. ^ Neumann, Marc (2018-09-18). "Kann Mathematik sexistisch sein? Ein Aufsatz über Intelligenzverteilung unter Männern und Frauen wurde in den USA jedenfalls zensuriert". Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved 2019-09-15.
  9. ^ Steven George Krantz. Mathematical Publishing: A Guidebook. American Mathematical Society. ISBN 9780821872598.
  10. ^ Branislav Kisacanin (2001) Review of Mathematical Conversations. Mathematical Association of America.
  11. ^ Kasman, Alex. "Mathematically Bent". Mathematical Fiction. Retrieved 2019-09-15.

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