Jorge Alfonso Sáenz Camacho
(1938-2018)

Jorge Sáenz hojeando sus libros
Cajamarca, Peru

Jorge was born in Cajamarca, Peru, a small town located 2,750 meters above sea level.

He grew up in very unfortunate conditions, in a poor family, with an absent father, a mother who left him an orphan when he was 9 years old, and also lost his right hand in a tragic accident when he was 12 years old. Despite these complicated circumstances, Jorge knew how to take advantage of the only resource he had to get ahead, his mind.

Thanks to the tremendous sacrifice of his older brother, a humble cadet of the town police, Jorge had the opportunity to study at a Jesuit boarding school, where he not only excelled by obtaining the best grades and awards, he also discovered Mathematics, the one passion that would define the rest of his life.

Academic life

Jorge’s greatest desire was to study Pure Mathematics; however, he couldn’t afford living and studying in the capital city, Lima, where San Marcos National University is located. Jorge had to settle for studying Mathematics Education at Enrique Guzmán y Valle University, in the province of Chosica, Peru.

As soon as he obtained his degree as a mathematics teacher, Jorge moved to the capital to teach mathematics in several schools. He divided his time between teaching, learning English and achieving his most coveted goal, studying Pure Mathematics at San Marcos National University.

San Marcos University old campus, now an architectonic memorial

Unexpected destinations

On the left, Alberto Fujimori next to Jorge Saenz. Year 1968

The most important turning point in his career occurred thanks to the Baby Boom phenomenon in the United States. When the boomer generation reached adolescence, it produced a shortage of mathematics teachers in the American nation. At that time the world’s best universities offered new scholarship programs for mathematicians and engineers who spoke English. 

Jorge was able to access one of these programs, becoming part of that great generation of Peruvian professionals who emigrated to learn and teach mathematics, including his friend and colleague, Alberto Fujimori, who decades later became the president of Peru.

Jorge received a B.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University (New York, USA) and an M.A. as well as a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA).

His career as a professor was very extensive. He had the opportunity to teach at institutions in five different countries, including Columbia University (New York), the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and the University of Puerto Rico. In the 80’s he decided to settle in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, supporting the founding of the mathematics department of the Lisandro Alvarado University, where the best Venezuelan mathematicians have graduated.

His area of specialty was Differential Geometry, a field in which he had the privilege of training several generations of geometricians, teaching in master’s and doctoral programs. However, his delight was the training of students in the initial undergraduate courses; perhaps because of his unforgettable experiences as a high school teacher. For these reasons, he always remained involved in the chairs of Calculus and Discrete Structures.

Jorge the Author

Vectores Geometría y Trigonometría 1975
First book of Jorge Saenz. 1975

Jorge used to write non-commercial texts to assist his classes, in fact, the first of them , Vectores, Geometria y Trigonometria (vectors, geometry and trigonometry) was written in 1975.

 As a curious fact, the cover was drawn in pencil and paper by his then-wife, Esther. She also typographed the first manuscript. 

He wrote more than a dozen mathematical titles, and despite having received offers from major publishing houses, such as Mc. Graw Hill and Pearson, he decided to handle the distribution of his books, establishing his own publishing house in 1990, Editorial Hipotenusa.

A new era for Hipotenusa

Jorge Saenz sadly passed away in June 2018, after a four-year battle with throat cancer. But, in this opportunity, his physical absence is not synonymous with death. His former right-hand man and son, Roberto Saenz, claims that as long as his work is alive, Jorge will also be alive.

Roberto has made his father’s unfinished projects his own, and is the current director of Hipotenusa, a new trademark that goes beyond the traditional publishing industry.

Science outreach is changing at the same time that social networks evolve. In that sense, Roberto launched the account Pythagorean Pal on the X platform (formerly Twitter).

On Pythagorean Pal we share content related to mathematics and technology. Moreover, Pythagorean Pal gives dynamism to the content of the books by linking its pages with related posts via QR codes.

You can also follow him on twitter/X as @pythagoreanpal.

XIR161164 Portrait of Louis Cauchy (1789-1857) (oil on canvas) by French School, (19th century)
oil on canvas
Musee de l'Ile de France, Sceaux, France
Lauros / Giraudon
French, out of copyright

Men pass away, 

but their deeds abide

Agustin Cauchy’s last words,  1857.

Agustin Cauchy’s last words,  1857.