# Lillian Rosanoff Lieber

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lillian_Rosanoff_Lieber*

**Lillian Rosanoff Lieber** (July 26, 1886 in
Nicolaiev,
Russian Empire - July 11, 1986 in
Queens,
New York) was a Russian-American mathematician and popular author.^{
[1]} She often teamed up with her illustrator husband, Hugh Gray Lieber, to produce works.

## Life and career

### Early life and education

Lieber was one of four children of Abraham H. and Clara (Bercinskaya) Rosanoff.^{
[2]} Her brothers were Denver publisher Joseph Rosenberg, psychiatrist
Aaron Rosanoff, and chemist
Martin André Rosanoff. Aaron and Martin changed their names to sound more Russian, less Jewish.^{
[3]} Lieber moved to the US with her family in 1891. She received her A.B. from
Barnard College in 1908, her M.A. from
Columbia University in 1911, and her Ph.D. (in chemistry) from
Clark University in 1914, under Martin's direction; at Clark,
Solomon Lefschetz was a classmate.^{
[4]} She married Hugh Gray Lieber on October 27, 1926.^{
[2]}

### Career

After teaching at
Hunter College from 1908 to 1910, and in the
New York City
high school system (1910-1912, 1914-1915), she became a Research Fellow at
Bryn Mawr College from 1915 to 1917; she then went on to teach at
Wells College from 1917 to 1918 as Instructor of Physics (also acting as head of the physics department), and at the
Connecticut College for Women (1918 to 1920).^{
[2]} She joined the mathematics department at
Long Island University (LIU) in
Brooklyn, New York (
LIU Brooklyn) in 1934, became department chair in 1945 (taking over from Hugh when he became Professor, and Chair, of Art at LIU ^{
[4]}), and was made a full professor in 1947, until her retirement in 1954; she was appointed director of LIU's
Galois Institute of Mathematics (later the
Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art) (named for
Évariste Galois) in 1934.^{
[1]}^{
[5]} Over her career she published some 17 books, which were written in a unique, free-verse style and illustrated with whimsical line drawings by her husband. Her highly accessible writings were praised by no less than
Albert Einstein,
Cassius Jackson Keyser,
Eric Temple Bell, and
S. I. Hayakawa. Concerning her book, *
The Education of T. C. MITS*,
Dorothy Canfield Fisher said:

This is quite different from any other book you ever bought... full of mathematics and full of humor... also full of a deep, healing philosophy of life, reassuring, strengthening, [and] humane..."

^{ [6]}

She edited several volumes of
Galois lectures, including Martin's *A Practical Simplification of the Method of Least Squares*, several talks by
Alonzo Church, and *Lattice Theory* by
Garrett Birkhoff.^{
[4]}
Although Lieber retired from Long Island University in 1954, she continued to write and publish into the 1960s.

### Personal obscurity

Few details of Lillian Lieber's life and career have survived, even at Long Island University. She died in Queens, New York just weeks shy of her 100th birthday. She came from a well-educated Jewish family. Details can be found in the out of print book, *Yesterday*, that was written by her cousin
Miriam Shomer Zunser in the 1930s.^{
[1]}

## Unusual typography

In addition to enlivening her books with illustrations (or "psyquaports" ^{
[7]}) by her husband, Hugh Gray Lieber (who was head of the Department of Fine Arts at Long Island University), Lillian often chose an unusual scheme of typography which is self-explained in this example from her Preface to *The Education of T. C. MITS*:

This is not intended to be

free verse.

Writing each phrase on a separate line

facilitates rapid reading,

and everyone

is in a hurry

nowadays.

T.C. MITS was an acronym for "The Celebrated Man In The Street," a character who, like George Gamow's Mr Tompkins, served as a device for bringing concepts in higher mathematics and physics to the general public. The MITS character was central to Lieber's populist approach to education, and she often laced her expositions with passages extolling the virtues of the democratic system.

## "The Lillian Lieber Standard"

In her book, *The Einstein Theory of Relativity*, Lillian Lieber stated her views on the inclusion of mathematics in books intended for "the celebrated man [or woman] in the streets:"

...just enough mathematics to HELP and NOT to HINDER the lay reader... Many 'popular' discussions of Relativity without any math at all have been written, but we doubt whether even the best of these can possibly give to a novice an adequate idea of what it is all about.... On the other hand, there are many [books on relativity] that are accessible to experts only."

The Cavendish Press in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has adopted Lillian's rule of thumb with some elaboration.^{
[8]}

## Works

Although her works were broadly influential (including a special paperback edition of *The Education of T. C. MITS* that was circulated to American servicemen during World War II), they remained out of print for decades. Starting in 2007, publisher
Paul Dry Books has reissued *The Education of T.C. MITS*, *Infinity*, and *The Einstein Theory of Relativity*.^{
[3]}

- 1931
*Non-Euclidean Geometry*, Academy Press.^{ [9]} - 1932
*Galois and the Theory of Groups*, Science Press Printing Company, Lancaster, PA. - 1936
*The Einstein Theory of Relativity*, Science Press Printing Company, Lancaster, PA. - 1940
*Non-Euclidean Geometry; or, Three Moons in Mathesis*, Science Press Printing Company, Lancaster, PA.^{ [2]} - 1942
*The Education of T. C. MITS*, Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art, Brooklyn, NY.. - 1944
*The Education of T. C. MITS*, W. W. Norton & Company, NY, (Revised and Enlarged edition) - 1945
*The Einstein theory of Relativity*, Farrar & Rinehart, NY & Toronto.*(Part I of this edition is the same material published in 1936. Part II was new in this edition.)* - 1946
*Modern Mathematics for T. C. Mits, The Celebrated Man in the Street*, G. Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1st London Edition. - 1946
*Take a Number: Mathematics for the Two Billion*, The Jacques Cattell Press, Lancaster, PA. - 1947
*Mits, Wits and Logic*, (1st Edition) W. W. Norton & Company, NY.^{ [7]} - 1949
*The Einstein Theory of Relativity*, D. Dobson, London. - 1953, 2008
*Infinity: Beyond the Beyond the Beyond*, Edited & Foreword by Barry Mazur, Paul Dry Books, Rinehart, NY.^{ [10]}^{ [11]} - 1954
*Mits, Wits, and Logic*, (Revised Edition) Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art, Brooklyn, NY. - 1956
*Human Values of Modern Mathematics a Book of Essays*, Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art, Brooklyn, NY.^{ [12]} - 1959
*Lattice Theory: The Atomic Age in Mathematics*, Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art, Brooklyn, NY. - 1960
*Mits, Wits, and Logic*, (3d Edition) W. W. Norton & Company, NY. - 1961
*Human Values and Science, Art and Mathematics*, (1st Edition) W. W. Norton & Company, NY. - 1961
*Galois and the Theory of Groups: A Bright Star in Mathesis*, Galois Institute of Mathematics and Art, Brooklyn, NY.^{ [13]} - 1963
*Mathematics: First S-t-e-p-s*, F. Watts, NY. - 2007
*The Education of T. C. MITS: What Modern Mathematics Means to You*, Foreword by Barry Mazur, Paul Dry Books, Philadelphia, PA.^{ [14]} - 2008
*The Einstein theory of Relativity: A Trip To the Fourth Dimension*, Paul Dry Books, Philadelphia, PA.^{ [15]} - 2017
*Take a Number: Mathematics for the Two Billion*, Dover Publications, Mineola, NY.^{ [4]}

## Notes

- ^
^{a}^{b}^{c}"Robert Jantzen's webpage on Lieber" - ^
^{a}^{b}^{c}^{d}Alper, Joseph S. "Lillian R. Lieber".*Jewish Women's Archive*. Retrieved 1 March 2019. - ^
^{a}^{b}"Paul Dry, Publisher of her reissued books" - ^
^{a}^{b}^{c}^{d}Ackerberg-Hastings, Amy. "Take a Number: Mathematics for the Two Billion".*Mathematical Association of America*. Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved 5 March 2020. **^**Roberts, David Lindsay (2019).*Republic of Numbers: Unexpected Stories of Mathematical Americans through History*. Baltimore: JHU Press. p. 148. ISBN 9781421433080. Retrieved 5 March 2020.**^**Bookjacket of the 1944 W. W. Norton Edition of*The Education of T. C. MITS*- ^
^{a}^{b}Church, Alonzo (1948). "Review: Lillian R. Lieber, Hugh Gray Lieber, Mits, Wits and Logic".*Journal of Symbolic Logic*.**13**(1): 55. doi: 10.2307/2268160. JSTOR 2268160. **^**Cavendish Press Web Site, elaboration of the Lillian Lieber Standard Archived 2007-02-12 at the Wayback Machine**^***Non-Euclidean geometry : or, Three moons in mathesis*.*HathiTrust*. [New York. Retrieved 1 March 2019.**^**"Works by Lillian R. Lieber - PhilPapers".*PhilPapers*. Retrieved 1 March 2019.**^**"The Education of T. C. MITS".*Paul Dry Books*. Retrieved 1 March 2019.**^**"Lillian Rosanoff Lieber, Human Values of Modern Mathematics a Book of Essays - PhilPapers".*PhilPapers*. Retrieved 1 March 2019.**^**"Galois and the Theory of Groups: A Bright Star in Mathesis - Mathematical Association of America". Retrieved 5 March 2019.**^**"The Education of T. C. MITS".*Paul Dry Books*. Retrieved 1 March 2019.**^**"The Education of T. C. MITS".*Paul Dry Books*. Retrieved 1 March 2019.