Tobias Dantzig (/ˈdæntsɪɡ/; February 19, 1884 – August 9, 1956) was an American mathematician, the father of George Dantzig, and the author of Number: The Language of Science (A critical survey written for the cultured non-mathematician) (1930) and Aspects of Science (New York, Macmillan, 1937).


Born in Shavli[1][2] (then Imperial Russia, now Lithuania) into the family of Shmuel Dantzig (?-1940) and Guta Dimant (1863–1917), he grew up in Lodz and studied mathematics with Henri Poincaré in Paris.[3] His brother Jacob (1891-1942), was murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust; he also had a brother Naftali (who lived in Moscow) and sister Emma.

Tobias married a fellow Sorbonne University student, Anja Ourisson, and the couple emigrated to the United States in 1910. He worked for a time as a lumberjack, road worker, and house painter in Oregon, until returning to academia at the encouragement of Reed College mathematician Frank Griffin.[3] Dantzig received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Indiana University in 1917, while working as a professor there.[3][4] He later taught at Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, and the University of Maryland.

Dantzig died in Los Angeles in 1956. He was the father of George Dantzig, a key figure in the development of linear programming.

Memorable quotationEdit

"The harmony of the universe knows only one musical form—the legato; while the symphony of number knows only its opposite—the staccato. All attempts to reconcile this discrepancy are based on the hope that an accelerated staccato may appear to our senses as a legato."[5]

Partial list of publicationsEdit

  • Number: The Language of Science (1930);[6] reprint of 4th edition. Penguin. 2007.
  • Aspects of Science (1937)
  • Henri Poincaré, Critic of Crisis: Reflections on His Universe of Discourse (1954)
  • The Bequest of the Greeks (1955); Dover reprint. 2006.


  1. ^ Profiles in Operations Research: Pioneers and Innovators
  2. ^ T. Dantzig, Historian and Interpreter of Mathematics
  3. ^ a b c Albers, Donald J.; Alexanderson, Gerald L.; Reid, Constance, eds. (1990), "George B. Dantzig", More Mathematical People, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, pp. 60–79.
  4. ^ Hosch WL Tobias Dantzig, Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition.
  5. ^ Tobias Dantzig (1 January 2007). Number: The Language of Science. Plume. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-452-28811-9.
  6. ^ Miller, G. A. (1931). "Review of Number: The Language of Science by Tobias Dantzig" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 37: 9. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1931-05073-4.

External linksEdit