I think in undergrad functional analysis we were told an anecdote that at Stefan Banach's university in Warsaw they maintained a list of open problems which had material prizes attached to them including chickens. But I can't find anything on that with google.

Does somebody have a reference?


1 Answer 1


You seem to be referencing the Scottish Book, and specifically problem 153 (whether all Banach spaces have the approximation property), for the solution of which Mazur promised a live goose as prize. Said prize was later awarded to Per Enflo in 1972 for proving the claim false.

Added: A complete pdf version of the Scottish Book, translated in English and with some commentary by Ulam is available at


It also contains the original formulation of problem 153, which is not exactly the same as the one I had previously mentioned (though with a little effort I reckon that it's possible to reconstruct why they are considered equivalent).

Added (2): Following the comments by Gerald Edgar and Margaret Friedland, a piece of information that's worth mentioning here is that the Scottish Book was written while Banach was working in Lwów (today's L'viv, in Ukrainian). Wikipedia doesn't mention Banach ever being associated with Warsaw-based cultural instituitons: he was working in Lwów essentially all the time that international contingencies allowed it, and sometimes he was in Kraków.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ And furhermore, the Scottish Book was kept at the Scottish Cafe, which was not in Warsaw, but in the Polish city of Lwów. Recently, Lwow has been in the news: Now part of Ukraine, its Ukranian name is Lviv. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 12:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ To elaborate a bit more, Banach spent all his professional life in Lwów. He was never affiliated with any academic institution in Warsaw. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 18:10
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think redacted would be better published. At least in most dialects of English it means to blank out or remove from the text, often to preserve someone's privacy. $\endgroup$
    – mdewey
    Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 14:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.