About Steven Alexander István (István Sándor) Gaál
Gaal received his Ph.D. under Frigyes Riesz and Lipót Fejér in 1947, although at the time, graduate study in Hungary did not exist in the formal way it is thought of today. There were no formalities of prelims, qualifying exams, or even thesis advisor or tuition. After World War I, Hungary was dismembered and the Austro-Hungarian monarchy ended. Two thirds of Hungary's territory was given to other states, some existing, others created and since vanished. Under these conditions, only minimal numbers of higher education faculty could be appointed and students had to learn only from books or one or two old sick professors. Nevertheless, doctoral students managed to create publishable theses. Gaal's thesis problem had its origin in a letter Paul Erdős wrote to Pál Turán, in which he mentions a prize problem posed by the Netherlands Mathematical Society. Gaal solved it and with Erdős jointly published the solution.