Warsaw 1851 - Warsaw 1939


Brief scientific biography

Born: 12 May 1851 in Warsaw, Poland
Died: 29 September 1939 in Warsaw, Poland

Samuel Dickstein was a great Polish scientist - mathematician, pedagogue, historian of natural sciences, organizer of the Polish scientific life, propagator of mathematics.
His childhood and the greater part of his adult life took place during a very difficult period in Poland, when the country was not independent and had been divided up between Austria, Prussia and Russia (1975-1918). At that time, Poles strongly aspired to reunite the country, fighting against the domination of invaders. Poland finally regained independence in November 1918. Dickstein was among the scientists who were the most active and did all in their power to restore the country, mostly by broadening Polish education, by developing scientific research, and by popularizing science.
In Warsaw, occupied by Russia during the period 1869-1874, all secondary schooling was in Russian, and there was no Polish university. Dickstein, after his secondary school education, entered the only post-secondary school in Warsaw, the Main School, in 1866 and studied there until 1869. Then he entered the Imperial University of Warsaw, which was established in 1870 by Russian rulers in place of the Main School. He studied mathematics until 1876. At the same time, he worked as a mathematics teacher in secondary school. In 1878 he began to realize his ideas of promoting Polish education and for ten years directed his own private secondary school for mathematics and science.
Moreover, he began to promote Polish mathematics, its history and the history of science in many ways: as a lecturer of mathematics and history of science, as a scientist, as an author of works in mathematics and history of science, as a translator into Polish of the significant foreign works concerning modern mathematics, as a publisher and editor of scientific journals, and finally as an organizer of Polish and international scientific societies, especially those assembling outstanding young mathematicians, in order to create the best possible conditions for their scientific development.
In 1888, together with Wladyslaw Natanson (1864-1937) and Wladyslaw Gosiewski (1844-1911), he created, edited and published the Polish journal Mathematical and Physical Papers, which quickly gained international renown. In 1897 he established another journal, Mathematical News, which he edited until 1939. Publication of both these journals was continued after the Second World War. Beginning in 1955 they were published as Annuals of the Polish Mathematical Society: Series 1, "Mathematical Papers", renamed "Commentationes Mathematicae" in 1967, and Series 2, "Mathematical News". In 1881 Dickstein founded another periodical, Pedagogical Annual, which he edited from 1881 to 1928.

In addition to these activities as a publisher and editor he wrote books and articles concerning number theory, vector algebra, set theory, and history of mathematics. Thanks to his articles published in international journals, especially in Bibliotheca Mathematica, many Polish mathematicians became known to foreign readers and were included in the select group of co-founders of European mathematics.
In the field of history of exact sciences Dickstein collected many old documents, which became points of departure for further scientific research. The monograph dedicated to the outstanding Polish mathematician Jozef Hoene-Wronski (1776-1853), and the preparation of documents for a monograph dedicated to Adam Kochanski (1631-1700), especially the publication of the correspondence between Adam Kochanski and Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1713), were among his most important works. His work was appreciated not only in Poland: he was elected as vice-president of the International Academy of History of Exact Sciences.
Dickstein was also a translator into Polish of many works of foreign mathematicians and modern foreign academic textbooks. In these translations he introduced new Polish terminology for concepts of modern mathematics. Moreover, he was an author of mathematics textbooks for students in secondary and post-secondary schools. He treated the development of the art of mathematics teaching as a very important activity. He was an organizer and animator of the first Polish pedagogical centre, bringing together teachers of mathematics and science. He was also an active member of the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction, ICMI.

Dickstein was a founder of many Polish societies. The Society of Scientific Courses was the only university in Warsaw whose aim was to give an opportunity to gifted young people to study at university level - it existed in 1906-1918. Dickstein was its founder, chair-holder and lecturer.


He was a founder in 1903 of the Warsaw Scientific Society, a member from 1890 of the Society of Friends of Science in Poznan, a member from 1893 of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cracow. The main aims of those societies were to develop scientific research, to make science more popular, to organize financial support for young scientists and gifted students, and to publish scientific books and articles.
In the domain of mathematics, those societies also fostered strong cooperation between their members, the sharing of mathematical experience and teamwork. That particular atmosphere was the main secret behind the future great successes of Polish mathematicians - the Polish Mathematical School.
In a few years all activities in scientific societies appeared to bear fruit, when in 1915, during the First World War, in Warsaw there were favorable political conditions for the founding of the Polish University of Warsaw. The group of mathematicians was ready to work at that university. Dickstein obtained a position as professor of mathematics, and gave the first year lectures on algebra. In 1919 he became honorary professor of mathematics and history of science, and a dean of faculty. In 1921 he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by that university. He gave lectures on higher algebra and the history of exact sciences until 1937.
The ideals pursued by the Society of Scientific Courses, the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Warsaw Scientific Society and others were continued in the context of the Polish Mathematical Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Matematyczne or PTM), which was established in 1919. There too Dickstein played a leading role as one of the most active members and as president of the society from 1923 to 1926.

Dickstein was well known in the scientific world: he was a member of the Scientific Society in Liege, and an honorary member of the Czech Mathematical Society.
His versatile activities (author of some 260 works, co-organizer of a network of meteorological stations in Poland, co-founder of the Museum of Industry and Agriculture and of the Museum of the Tatra Mountains, donor - bequeathing his rich library of tens of thousand of volumes to the Warsaw Scientific Society) became an example to follow for many of his students and for the next generations of mathematicians. The Polish Mathematical Society established a prestigious prize named after Samuel Dickstein for achievements for the benefit of mathematical culture.
On the occasion of the international congress of mathematicians in Oslo in 1936, the ICMI committee met and decided de conférer le titre de "Membre honoraire de la Commission", en raison des services rendus to Dickstein (FEHR 1936, 388).
Dickstein died in Warsaw in September 1939 - at the beginning of the Second World War. His tomb is in the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw.


Books translated into Polish by Samuel Dickstein:

F. KLEIN 1893, Vergleichende Betrachtungen ueber neuere geometrische Forschungen, (in Polish: Rozwazania porownawcze o nowych badaniach geometrycznych), Warsaw
F. KLEIN 1899, Vorlesungen ueber die Mathematik - Mathematik Congress, Evanston 1893, (in Polish: Odczyty o matematyce miane w Evanston 28.08 - 9.09.1893 dla członkow kongresu matematycznego odbytego w czasie wystawy wszechswiatowej w Chicago), Redakcja "Wiadomosci Matematycznych"
C.-A. LAISANT 1908, Initiation Mathématique, (in Polish: Nauczanie poczatkow matematyki), Warsaw, Ksiegarnia Polska
E. LEBON 1903, Geschichte der Astronomie, (In Polish: Krotki zarys dziejow astronomji), Warsaw, Ksiegarnia E. Wende
G. LORIA 1889, Storia della geometria descrittiva dalle origini sino ai giorni nostri, (in Polish: Przeszlosc i stan obecny najwazniejszych teoryj geometrycznych), Warsaw, Gebethner i Wolff
J. C. MAXWELL 1912, Matter and Motion, (in Polish: Materya i ruch), Lvov, Ksiegarnia E. Wende
W. F. MEYER 1899, Bericht ueber den gegenwaertigen Stand der Invariantentheorie, (in Polish: O stanie obecnym teorii niezmiennikow), Warsaw
G. MITTAG-LEFFLER 1907, Ueber der analytische Representation der analytische Funktion, (in Polish: O przedstawianiu analitycznym jednoznacznej galezi funkcji analitycznej), Warsaw, Redakcja "Prac Matematyczno Fizycznych"
S. NEWCOMB 1912, A Compendium of Astronomy, (in Polish: Astronomia dla wszystkich), with introduction written by Samuel Dickstein, Warsaw, H. Lindenfeld
E. PASCAL 1896, Lezioni di calcolo infinitesimale, calcolo differenziale, (in Polish: Rachunek nieskonczonosciowy, rachunek rozniczkowy), Warsaw, Redakcja "Prac Matematyczno-Fizycznych"
E. PASCAL 1896, Lezioni di calcolo infinitesimale, calcolo integrale, (in Polish: Rachunek nieskonczonosciowy, rachunek calkowy), Warsaw, Redakcja "Prac Matematyczno-Fizycznych"
E. PASCAL 1897, Lezioni di calcolo infinitesimale, calcolo delle variazioni e calcolo delle differenze finite (in Polish: Rachunek nieskonczonosciowy, rachunek waryacyjny i rachunek roznic skonczonych), Warsaw, Redakcja "Prac Matematyczno-Fizycznych"
E. PASCAL 1900, Repertorio di matematiche superiori, (in Polish: Repertoryum matematyki wyzszej), part 1 - Analysis, Warsaw, Redakcja "Wiadomosci Matematycznych"
E. PASCAL 1901, Repertorio di matematiche superiori, (in Polish: Repertoryum matematyki wyzszej), part 2 - Geometry, Warsaw, Redakcja "Wiadomosci Matematycznych"
E. PASCAL 1903, I gruppi continui di transformazioni, (in Polish: Grupy ciagle przeksztalcen), Warsaw, Redakcja "Wiadomosci Matematycznych"
E. PASCAL 1909, Esercizi critici di calcolo differenziale e integrale, (in Polish: Cwiczenia z rachunku rozniczkowego i calkowego), Warsaw, Redakcja "Wiadomosci Matematycznych"
G. PEANO 1897, Calcolo geometrico, (in Polish: Zarys rachunku geometrycznego), Warsaw, Redakcja "Prac Matematyczno Fizycznych"
é. PICARD 1900, Sur le développement de quelques théories de l'analyse mathématique, (in Polish: Odczyty o rozwoju niektorych teoryj zasadniczych analizy matematycznej w wieku XIX), Redakcja "Wiadomosci Matematycznych"
P. REIS 1873, Lehrbuch der Physik, (in Polish: Wyklad fizyki opracowany na podstawie najnowszych badan) , Warsaw, Czasopismo "Przyroda i przemysl"
B. RIEMANN 1922, Ueber die Hypothesen welche der Geometrie zur Grundlage liegen, (in Polish: O hipotezach, ktore sluza za podstawe geometryi), Warsaw, Redakcja "Prac Matematyczno-Fizycznych"
H. WEBER 1925, Lehrbuch der Algebra, (in Polish: Podrecznik algebry wyzszej), Warsaw, Kasa im. Mianowskiego Instytutu Popierania Nauki

Books written by Samuel Dickstein:

S. DICKSTEIN 1889, Note bibliographique sur les etudes historio-mathematiques en Pologne, Stockholm
S. DICKSTEIN 1926, Algebra wyzsza opracowana wedlug wykladow Samuela Dicksteina (Higher Algebra - elaborated according to the lectures of Samuel Dickstein), Warsaw, Komisja Wydawnicza Kola Matematyczno-Fizycznego sluchaczy Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
S. DICKSTEIN 1883, Arytmetyka w zadaniach - Liczby calkowite (Arithmetics in exercises - Whole numbers), Warsaw, Gebethner i Wolf
S. DICKSTEIN 1883, O muzeach pedagogicznych slow kilka (Short note on pedagogical museum), Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1883, Poczatkowa nauka geometryi w zadaniach (Initial learning of geometry in tasks), Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1886, Arytmetyka w zadaniach - Ulamki - 1340 zadan (Arithmetics in exercises - Fractions - 1340 Tasks) , Warsaw, Gebethner i Wolff
S. DICKSTEIN 1886, Dowod dwoch wzorow Wronskiego - analiza funkcjonalna, (Proof of two formulas of Wronski - functional analysis) , Cracow
S. DICKSTEIN 1886, O niektorych wlasnosciach funkcyj alef (On some properties of functions alef) , Cracow
S. DICKSTEIN 1886, O twierdzeniu Crocchiego - analiza funkcjonalna (On the theorem of Crocchi - functional analysis) , Cracow
S. DICKSTEIN 1887, Hoene Wronski, Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1887, Poglady filozoficzno-pedagogiczne Hoene-Wronskiego (Philosophical and pedagogical Viewpoints of Hoene-Wronski) , Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1888, Kilka twierdzen o funkcjach (Some theorems concerning functions), Cracow
S. DICKSTEIN 1888, Wlasnosci i niektore zastosowania Wronskianow (Some properties and applications of Wronskians), Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1889, Geometrya elementarna (Elementary Geometry), Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1889, O "prawie najwyzszem" Hoene Wronskiego w matematyce (On "the highest law" of Hoene-Wronski in mathematics), Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1890, "Dopelnienie artykulu "O metodzie teleologicznej Hoene-Wronskiego rozwiazywania rownan algebraicznych" (Appendix to the article "On Hoene Wronski's teleological method of solving algebraic equations), Cracow
S. DICKSTEIN 1890, Foronomia Wronskiego (Wronski's Foronomy), Poznan
S. DICKSTEIN 1890, Wiadomosc bibliograficzna o badaniach historyczno-matematycznych w Polsce (Bibliographical information on Research in Poland concerning the history of mathematics), Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1891, Pojecia i metody matematyki (Concepts and methods of mathematics), Warsaw, Redakcja "Prac Matematyczno-Fizycznych"
S. DICKSTEIN 1894, Bibliografia matematyczna polska XIX stulecia (Mathematical Bibliography in Poland, XIX century), Cracow, Samuel Dickstein, E.Wawrykiewicz
S. DICKSTEIN 1895, Arytmetyka w zadaniach - Stosunki, proporcjonalnosc, kwadratury, szesciany - zadania rozne (Arithmetics in exercises - Ratios, proportionality, squaring, cube - various tasks), Warsaw, Gebethner i Wolff
S. DICKSTEIN 1896, Hoene Wronski: jego zycie i prace (Hoene Wro?ski (1776-1853) - His life and work), Cracow, Akademia Umiejetnosci
S. DICKSTEIN 1896, Katalog dziel i rekopisow Hoene-Wronskiego (Catalogue of works and manuscripts of Hoene-Wronski), Cracow, Akademia Umiejetnosci
S. DICKSTEIN 1903, O korespondencji Jana Sniadeckiego z Akademia Nauk w Petersburgu (On the correspondence between Jan Sniadecki and Academy of Sciences in Petersburg), Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1906, Stanislaw Staszic (1755-1826), Warsaw
S. DICKSTEIN 1921, Arytmetyka w trzech czesciach - Ulamki (Arithmetics in three parts - Fractions), Warsaw, Cracow, New York, Gebethner i Wolff
S. DICKSTEIN 1922, Galileusz w Padwie (Galileo in Padua), Warsaw, Redakcja "Wiadomosci Matematycznych"
S. DICKSTEIN, A. BIRKENMAJER 1933, Coup d'oeil sur l'histoire des sciences exactes en Pologne, (L'histoire sommmaire des sciences en Pologne publiée à l'occasion du 7-ème Congres de Sciences Historiques) , Cracovie
S. DICKSTEIN, A. DANIELEWICZ 1910, Zarys arytmetyki politycznej (Political arithmetics), Warsaw, Wydawnictwo bylych Wychowancow Szkoly Handlowej im. L. Kronenberga

Journals created and edited by Samuel Dickstein:

Prace Matematyczno-Fizyczne (Mathematical and Physical Papers) 1888-1952, Warsaw, S. Dickstein, W. Gosiewski, E. Natanson, W. Natanson
Rocznik Pedagogiczny (Pedagogical Annual) 1881-1884, 1923-1929, Warsaw, Gebethner i Wolff
Wiadomosci Matematyczne 1897-1939, (Mathematical News), Warsaw

Books edited by Samuel Dickstein:

S. DICKSTEIN 1898, Poradnik dla samoukow, Matematyka, Nauki przyrodnicze (Guidebook for Self-Instruction, Mathematics, Natural Sciences), Warsaw, S. Michalski and A. Heflich
S. DICKSTEIN, W. FOLKIERSKI 1904, Zasady rachunku rozniczkowego i calkowego (Fundamentals of differential calculus and integral calculus), Warsaw, Ksiegarnia E.Wende

All books and works listed above are available in Poland at the National Library in Warsaw, the Library of the University of Warsaw, the Jagiellonian Library in Cracow, the Nicolaus Copernicus Library of the University in Torun, and the Adam Mickiewicz Library of the University in Poznan.


S. DOMARADZKI, Z. PAWLIKOWSKA-BROZEK, D. WEGLOWSKA (eds.) 2003, S?ownik biograficzny matematykow polskich (Biographical Dictionary of Polish Mathematicians), Panstwowa Wyzsza Szko?a Zawodowa, Tarnobrzeg
H. FEHR 1936, Compte rendu de la réunion d'Oslo, 15 juillet 1936, L' Enseignement mathématique, 386-388
B. KNASTER 1955, Wspomnienia o Dicksteinie (Remembrance on Dickstein), Roczniki PTM, "Prace Matematyczne" (Annuals of the Polish Mathematical Society, "Mathematical Papers") s. I, 1, 4-8
S. KOLANKOWSKI, Z. PAWLIKOWSKA-BROZEK (in press), Słownik matematykow polskich (Dictionary of Polish Mathematicians), Warsaw, Prószyński i S-ka
A. MOSTOWSKI 1949, La vie et l'oeuvre de Samuel Dickstein (in French), in Prace Matematyczno-Fizyczne (Mathematical and Physical Papers), 47, Warsaw, PWN, VII-XII and in Wiadomosci Matematyczne (Mathematical News), Warsaw, PWN, 22
L. NOVY, 1970-1990, Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography, New York
RAPPORT DU CERCLE MATHEMATICO-PHYSIQUE DE VARSOVIE, L'Enseignement des mathématiques et de la physique dans les écoles privées de la Pologne, L'Enseignement Mathématique, 13, 299-319
A. SRODKA, P. SZCZAWINSKI 1986, Biogramy uczonych polskich, cz. III, Nauki scisle (Biograms of Polish Scientists), Part III, Exact Sciences

Internet addresses

Life of Dickstein:

Photos of Dickstein: (in the photo: the 9th from the left)

Caricature of Dickstein drawn by the Polish mathematician Leon Jesmanowicz (1914-1989):

Photo of the tomb of Dickstein at the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw:

Ewa Lakoma
Institute of Mathematics
Military University of Technology
Warsaw (Poland)