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Dickstein, Samuel

Dickstein, Samuel

(b. Warsaw, Poland, 12 May 1851; d. Warsaw, 29 September 1939)

mathematics, history of mathematics, science education, scientific organization.

Dickstein devoted his life to building up the organizational structure for Polish science, especially for mathematics. In the eighteenth century Poland’s territory had been divided among Prussia, Austria, and Russia; and thus Polish science education and scientific life depended mostly on personal initiative and not on state support. In his youth Dickstein experienced the escalation of national oppression after the unsuccessful uprising of 1863. There was no Polish university in Warsaw at that time, and higher education was provided in part by the Szkola Głóowna, which was a teachers’ college. From 1866 to 1869 Dickstein studied at the Szkola Główna, which was converted into the Russian University in Warsaw in 1869. After 1870 he continued his studies there and in 1876 received a master’s degree in pure mathematics.

From 1870 Dickstein taught in Polish secondary schools, concentrating on mathematics; from 1878 to 1888 he directed his own private school in Warsaw. In 1884, with A. Czajewicz, he founded Biblioteka Matematyczno-Fizyczna, which was intended to be a series of scientific textbooks written in Polish. These books greatly influenced the development of Polish scientific literature. In 1888 Dickstein took part in the founding of the first Polish mathematical-physical magazine, Prace matematyczno-fizyczne. Later he founded other publications, such as Wiadomości matematyczne and the education journal Ruch pedagogiczny (1881).

The Poles’ efforts after the creation of the Polish university led in 1906 to the founding of Towarzystwo Kursóow Naukowych, which organized the university science courses. Dickstein was the first rector of that society. In 1905 he became a founder of the Warsaw Scientific Society, and he was instrumental in the development of the Society of Polish Mathematicians. After the revival of the Polish university in Warsaw he became professor of mathematics there in 1919. His own mathematical work was concerned mainly with algebra. His main sphere of interest besides education was the history of mathematics, and he published a number of articles on Polish mathematicians that contributed to their recognition throughout the world. Of especial note are the monograph Hoene Wroński, jego źycie i prace (Cracow, 1896) and the edition of the Leibniz-Kochański correspondence, published in Prace matematycznofizyczne, 7 (1901), and 8 (1902). Appreciation of his historical works was shown in his election as vicepresident of the International Academy of Sciences. The list of his scientific works includes more than 200 titles. Dickstein died during the bombardment of Warsaw and his family perished during the German occupation of Poland.


I. Original Works. The list of Dickstein’s works up to 1917 is contained in a special issue of the magazine Wiadomości matematyczne; works from subsequent years are in the memorial volume III Polski zjazd matematyczny. Jubileasz 65-lecia działalności naukowej, pedagogicznej i społecznej profesora Samuela Dicksteina (Warsaw, 1937).

II. Secondary Literature Besides the memorial volume, the basic biographical data and an appreciation are contained in A. Mostowski, “La vie et l’oeuvre de Samuel Dickstein,” in Prace matematyczno-fizyczne, 47 (1949), 5–12.

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