History of the Polish Biometric Society – Part I
History of the Polish Biometric Society 1958-1960
On a visit to Poland in April 1958, Professor Jerzy Spława-Neyman, authorized by the Board of the Biometric Society, made a proposal to the Second Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences that a society for biometrics be established in Poland. In seeking to establish scientific contacts with Polish biometricians, Spława-Neyman did not find a vacuum, but a ready-formed group with clearly defined interests, whose moving spirit was Julian Perkal, a professor at the University of Wrocław. On 8 October 1948, Hugo Steinhaus had begun a Tuesday seminar on applications of mathematics, focused mainly on applications in the life sciences, particularly in anthropology, biology, geology, medicine and agriculture. He initially gave the seminars himself, but soon produced students and successors in the persons of Józef Łukaszewicz, Julian Perkal and Stefan Zubrzycki. At the end of the 1950s a group of local mathematicians and biologists began to form, centered around Perkal. This group included the mathematicians Józef Łukaszewicz, Stefan Zubrzycki, Franciszek Szczotka, Hubert Szczotka, Jerzy Kucharczyk, Anna Bartkowiakowa and Jan Sekuła, the anthropologist Adam Wanke, the medic Tadeusz Bogdanik, the botanist Krzysztof Rostański, and the forestry scientist Boleslaw Rutkowski.
Following initial discussions between Spława-Neyman and representatives of the Second Department of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the secretariat of that Department entrusted to Professor Julian Perkal the task of setting up a society for biometrics in Poland. It was initially established as a section of the Polish Copernicus Society of Naturalists, an organization that boasted a rich tradition. After nearly a year of preparation, on February 19-21, 1959, a general organizational meeting of the section was held at the Mathematics Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Wrocław (ul. Kopernika 18). The first plenary meeting was opened by Julian Perkal at 9 o’clock on 19 February 1959. A. Bant welcomed the participants on behalf of the Copernicus Society, and Bronisław Knaster wished them fruitful deliberations on behalf of the Mathematics and Natural Sciences Section of Wrocław Scientific Society. A list of Polish and foreign visitors who could not attend the conference was read out. A scientific talk was given by Hugo Steinhaus. The meeting was attended by about 100 people, including Anna Bartkowiakowa, Maciej Czarnowski, Jan Czekanowski, Marek Fisz, Bronisław Knaster, Józef Łukaszewicz, Edward Niedokos, Wiktor Oktaba, Mikołaj Olekiewicz, Julian Perkal, Hugo Steinhaus, Adam Wanke and Stefan Zubrzycki. All of Poland’s major research centers were represented. Four plenary lectures were delivered. The first was given by Jan Czekanowski from Poznań, who spoke about the achievements of the Polish school of anthropology. On the second day of the conference plenary talks were given by Mikołaj Olekiewicz from Lublin and Marek Fisz from Warsaw, who discussed the concept of homogeneity of alternative characteristics and certain non-parametric tests for the k-sample problem. On the third day Julian Perkal gave a lecture on multivariate analysis. Proceedings also took place separately in groups devoted to anthropology, dendrometry, medicine, and experimental design and analysis. In total 35 reports were made. This large number was evidence of the need for a forum for joint scientific meetings to enable the exchange of ideas and experiences.
On the last day of the meeting, 38 persons signed declarations of membership. It was resolved to grant all of them the title of founding member. The meeting elected the Management Board of the Biometric Section, composed of Julian Perkal (chairman), Franciszek Szczotka (secretary) and Józef Łukaszewicz (treasurer), as well as a Scientific Council, which consisted of Maciej Czarnowski (Kraków, later Wrocław), Halina Milicerowa (Warsaw), Wiktor Oktaba (Lublin) and Adam Wanke (Wrocław). Professor Oktaba needs no introduction. Maciej Czarnowski was a forestry scientist, and Halina Milicerowa and Adam Wanke were anthropologists.