Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina
BiographyAlthough Manuel Sadosky was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his parents, Natalio Sadosky and Maria Steingart, were Jewish Russian immigrants who had fled Russia because of continued violence against Jews. Manuel Sadosky spoke about his parents in an interview :-
I don't think I'm the most appropriate to talk about immigration. I never felt like an immigrant, nor did my siblings. My parents arrived in Argentina in 1905. They came from Russia, from a village called Ekatherineslav, in the Ukraine. The country was then as Tolstoy paints it. Jews were not allowed to study; they could only work in handicrafts. My father Note, Natalio Sadosky, was a shoemaker, but both he and my mother felt left behind and exposed to pogroms that could break out at any moment.Natalio Sadosky had arrived in Argentina in 1905 with his wife, who was illiterate. We should make it clear that the fact that Maria had never learnt to read and write was not due to any lack of ability, simply a comment about the state of education in her native country at that time. Natalio and Maria Sadosky arrived in Argentina with their three children but two of these later died. In Argentina they had six more children so only one of their seven surviving children, four boys and three girls, had been born abroad.
Julio Argentino Roca, president of Argentina, had appointed Domingo Faustino Sarmiento to set up public primary schools in Buenos Aires. Sarmiento believed that education can change societies and he promoted the most democratic educational system of his time. It was in this system that Manuel received his primary education. He spent the two years 1920 and 1921 at the primary school now named Escuela No. 13 D. E. 06 Brigadier General José María Zapiola and then five years at the Escuela Normal Superior No. 2 de Lenguas Vivas Mariano Acosta. He said:-
I was privileged having gone to primary school before 1930, to the Sarmiento school, to have had a teacher like the one I had in sixth grade, which prompted us to meet heroes like Ameghino.We note that Florentino Ameghino (1853-1911) was a famous Argentine naturalist and paleontologist, and that the teacher he had in the sixth grade was Alberto Fesquet who taught him to think about science rather than memorising facts. Sadosky later recalled :-
At Acosta there were a large number of excellent teachers. That school had a way of choosing its teachers that always seemed good to me: the best graduates on the teaching staff (in science and arts) gradually joined the university profession. Fesquet, for example, was a great teacher.Sadosky graduated from the Mariano Acosta in 1931 with a qualification to be a school teacher. This qualification was not sufficient to allow him to even sit the entrance examinations for the University of Buenos Aires so Sadosky studied to take the equivalent for his bachelor's degree at the Colegio Nacional de Adrogué. This qualified him to take the entrance examination for an engineering degree at the University of Buenos Aires, which he successfully passed. In 1932 he began his studies in the Faculty of Exact, Physics and Natural Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires.
When Sadosky began his studies at the University of Buenos Aires his intention was to study for an engineering degree. In his first year he took mathematics courses as well as engineering courses and he said that after taking the course Construction of buildings he became convinced that engineering was not for him while he had loved the mathematics courses he had taken. He changed to taking a mathematics degree which did not require him to change faculties since mathematics was also part of the Faculty of Exact, Physics and Natural Sciences. There was a :-
... little classroom in the old building at Calle Perú, for more than a century home to the School of Sciences - which was not much more than an engineering college. The "irregular" courses of what was pompously called the Doctoral Programme in Mathematics and Physics took place in a little classroom at the side of the stairs.The mathematics staff in the University of Buenos Aires when Sadosky was a student consisted of Julio Rey Pastor, the only paid professor, and Juan Carlos Vignaux, who held an honorary position. Sadosky writes :-
Needless to say, Rey Pastor and Vignaux were mortal enemies, and we, the students, had a hard time, since the examination panels were required by law to consist of three professors!There were, however, a number of outstanding students of mathematics at that time. Cora Ratto was in the same class as Sadosky and Yanny Frenkel was also a student. In 1935 Mischa Cotlar joined them when he began studying mathematics at the University of Buenos Aires. During his time as an undergraduate, Sadosky was appointed for the three years 1933-35 as an honorary assistant in Analytic and Projective Geometry. In September 1937 he was awarded a bachelor's degree in physical and mathematical sciences with honours. Also in 1937 Manuel Sadosky married Cora Ratto who also graduated in Physical-Mathematical Sciences in September 1937. Their daughter Cora Sadosky wrote in :-
In 1937 Cora Ratto married Manuel Sadosky, her lifelong companion both in mathematics and in political activities. Manuel was a bookish and intense young man from a poor Jewish family whose parents had fled the pogroms in tsarist Russia in 1905. ... Cora and Manuel shared a long and happy marriage. Their house was always full of friends, attracted by a hostess who was not only a superb cook, but also a great conversationalist, mixing witticism with wisdom and genuine caring. Cora and Manuel had one daughter [Cora Sadosky] - who also became a mathematician - and one granddaughter, who became the greatest joy of their lives. Both of them are called Cora!It is worth noting at this point how high level mathematics was developing in Argentina during the years that Sadosky spent as an undergraduate at the University of Buenos Aires. In 1933 the Argentine Association for the Progress of Science was created, modelled on the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Juan Carlos Vignaux, who taught Sadosky, was a founder member of the Argentine Association. In 1936 the Argentina Mathematical Union was founded, through the efforts of many but particularly Julio Rey Pastor, and in the same year began publishing the Revista de la Unión Matemática Argentina Ⓣ. Yanny Frenkel, who was at that time a Ph.D. student advised by Julio Rey Pastor, became one of the secretaries. She married Mischa Cotlar in 1938. Esteban Terradas, a Catholic who was labelled a conservative, was out of favour in Republican Barcelona at the start of the Spanish Civil War and he realised he had to leave Spain. He left at the end of October 1936, going to Argentina where he became very active supporting mathematics. He gave courses on mathematics and engineering at the University of Barcelona and he became Sadosky's Ph.D. advisor when he began research in 1937.
After the award of his bachelor's degree, Sadosky had to decide either to find a job or to undertake research for his doctorate. In fact he cleverly managed to do both by taking a position of astronomer at the Astronomical Observatory of La Plata. The director of the Observatory was the newly arrived Esteban Terradas so Sadosky was able to work there and also undertake research for his Ph.D. at the University of Buenos Aires with Terradas as his thesis advisor. He defended his thesis Sobre los métodos de resolución aproximada de ciertas ecuaciones de la fisicomatemática Ⓣ in 1940 and awarded a doctorate with distinction. He writes in the thesis:-
I am pleased to present four copies of my thesis to qualify for the title of Doctor of Physico-mathematical Sciences, complying with the provision of article 353 of the Digest of the Faculty. The thesis is entitled "On the methods of approximate resolution of certain equations of physico-mathematics", according to the topic approved in due time by the Thesis Committee. On this occasion, I must express my gratitude to doctors Esteban Terradas and Julio Rey Pastor for the frequent and useful guiding suggestions and bibliographic indications that I have received from them during the performance of my work. Likewise, I consider it a duty to express my gratitude to all the professors from whom I have received teachings and advice during my degree and in the course of my studies, particularly doctors Teófilo Isnardi, Juan C Viguaux, Juan Blaquier and Agustin Durañons y Vedia.Although there were no computing facilities at the time, in his thesis Sadosky studied the method of finite differences, the procedures of Ritz and Galerkin, and the Poisson integral, all topics which would become important in numerical analysis courses when computers become available. In 1939, while still working on his thesis, he had begun teaching mathematics at the National University of La Plata.
Sadosky's daughter, Cora Sadosky, was born in May 1940 when he was near to finishing his doctorate which he completed on 30 September 1940. Between 1939 and 1946 Sadosky served as an Assistant in the Department of Mathematics in the Faculty of Physico-mathematical Sciences of the National University of La Plata and was in charge of the practical courses Higher Mathematics I and II (differential equations and analytical functions). He also taught short courses on the Calculus of Variations and, during 1944-46, a course on the Foundations of Mathematics for students in the Mathematics Faculty.
The award of a scholarship from the French government allowed Sadosky, together with his wife Cora Ratto de Sadosky and his daughter Cora Sadosky, to travel to Paris in October 1946 to undertake post-doctoral work. He worked at the Henri Poincaré Institute, advised by Georges Darmois and participated in the Seminar on the Calculus of Probability and Statistics led by Maurice Fréchet. Leaving Paris in January 1948, Sadosky and his family went to Italy, where he worked in Rome under the direction of Mauro Picone, at the Istituto per le Applicazioni del Calcolo, until 1949, when Sadosky and his family returned to Argentina.
Juan Perón had been elected president of Argentina in 1946 and in 1949 introduced Constitutional Reforms. These were not supported by all and were opposed by the Radicals who declared the Peronists did not have the required majority to make constitutional changes. Universities lost their autonomy and opponents of the Constitutional Reforms pointed out that Perón had centralised too much power in his own hands :-
The Sadoskys returned to Argentina during a period of turmoil and political repression. They were banned from teaching at public universities, as were all those not affiliated with the party in power, and Cora went to work at a commercial enterprise to support the family.Sadosky managed to work at the Radiotechnical Institute of the University of Buenos Aires from 1949 to 1952. He gave courses there on the Calculus of Probabilities and Numerical Integration of Differential Equations. Perón's government, however, became more determined that only supporters of the party could teach in universities and in 1952 Sadosky was banned for political reasons from universities. In December 1952 he published the book Cálculo numérico y gráfico Ⓣ which ran to nine editions, the last one in 1981. Alston Householder writes in the review :-
An elementary text with chapter headings as follows: Numerical approximations, Scales, Logarithmic graphs, Slide rules, Nomography, Linear systems, Numerical solution of equations, Interpolation, Numerical differentiation and integration, Graphical and mechanical integration, Approximate integration of differential equations. Finally there is a twelve-page appendix entitled Evolution of mechanical and automatic calculation. In illustration of the level, Chapter VII gives the methods of regula falsi, Newton (with a section on iterative processes in general), Horner, and Gräffe, with discussions of synthetic division, Descartes's rule of signs, and Sturm's theorem. There are numerous examples, many worked out in detail.During 1953 and 1954 he taught a mathematics course organised by the Engineering Student Centre. In 1955 Perón began to lose the support of the military and, after a failed coup in June 1955, another in September 1955 succeeded and Perón fled to exile in Spain. Although there was an unstable political situation over the following years, the universities regained their autonomy in 1956. In the period before 1956 Sadosky had been collaborating with Rebeca Cherep de Guber writing the book Elementos de cálculo diferencial e integral Ⓣ which was published in 1956. This textbook was in two volumes, the first on the Differential Calculus and the second on the Integral Calculus. The book was not aimed primarily at mathematics students but rather it was written for engineers and users of mathematics.
The fall of Perón's government led to large changes in the universities. At the University of Buenos Aires, Sadosky was appointed Acting Professor of Mathematical Analysis in the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences and Acting Professor of Special Mathematics in the Faculty of Engineering. A competition was held for a full professorship in the Faculty of Engineering and Sadosky was appointed on 9 May 1957. On 13 June 1959 he was appointed as a full professor in the Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences and, as a consequence, resigned his professorship in the Faculty of Engineering. On 28 December 1959 he was appointed Vice Dean of the Faculty.
Sadosky is best known today as the 'Father of computing in Argentina'. He persuaded the university authorities to set up a Computational Institute and to purchase a computer; a Special Commission comprising of Alberto González Domínguez, Manuel Sadosky and Simón Leonado Altmann was given the responsibility to study the "organization and governance of the Computational Institute and present draft regulations and a plan for its needs." Cecilia Berdichevsky writes :-
After issuing an international bid that year , all members of a Special Commission from the University of Buenos Aires selected the Ferranti Mercury computer to be purchased for the University.... The installation of the Mercury was completed by the beginning of 1961. The reason for such delay was that the chosen room to place the computer, being prepared on the second floor of the new building of the School of Exact and Natural Sciences, was not yet ready and did not suit the required strict Ferranti specifications.The Ferranti Mercury computer was known from the time it was installed as Clementina. This was because it had been programmed to play the song Oh My Darling, Clementine. A small team began work with the new computer led by Manuel Sadosky. The team included Sadosky's collaborator Rebeca Guber and Cecilia Berdichevsky. The Computational Institute, directed by Sadosky, was set up in 1961 and began operating the new computer on 15 May in that year. It was highly successful in carrying out tasks for various faculties in the University of Buenos Aires, for institutions such as the National Atomic Energy Commission, and for various private companies. In addition members of the Computational Institute carried out their own researches.
Arturo Illia had become President of Argentina following elections in June 1963. He tried to split the Perónists, who controlled the unions, from their exiled leader Perón. The Perónists reacted by supporting a coup against President Arturo Illia in June 1966 and General Juan Carlos Onganía, the commander in chief of the army, took control of the country. Following the military takeover, the University of Buenos Aires was attacked by police in July 1966. Manuel Sadosky was at a Board of Directors meeting on the night of 29 July when the police arrived at the Faculty and began to attack and arrest teachers, graduates and students in what became known as the 'Night of the Long Batons'. Sadosky, who had been beaten by the police, Cora Ratto de Sadosky and their daughter Cora Sadosky all resigned their positions at the university in protest. They were not alone, for around 400 faculty members resigned in protest at the police brutality directed at the university staff.
For a newspaper article which gives details of the problems that the Sadosky family experienced in 1966, see THIS LINK and also THIS LINK.
Sadosky was keen that those staff fleeing Argentina should remain in South America. His reasoning was that if they went to Europe or the United States they were much less likely to return when the situation in Argentina became better. Along with the engineer Juan Chamero, the mathematician Rebeca Cherep de Guber and the chemist David Jacovkis he created the company called Asesores Ciencia Técnicos S.A. Other members of the Computational Institute worked for the company and in 1970 Sadosky and the other two founders sold the company to some of those workers. Sadosky spent part of his time in Buenos Aires and part in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he worked for the Computing Centre of the Universidad de la República. He played a major role in the Computing Centre purchasing an IBM 360/44 in October 1968.
Two political events in 1973 began to make Sadosky's presence in both Argentina and Uruguay close to impossible. The June coup in Uruguay led to a dictatorship which aimed repress the left-wing using, most believe, human rights abuses. In 1973 Juan Perón returned to Argentina and became President again on 12 October 1973. He died in the following July, but was succeeded by his wife Isabel Perón. From 1973 to 1976 the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (known as the Triple A) was a Perónist death squad that killed leftist academics, politicians, union members etc. In 1974 the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance threatened Sadosky and his family who left Argentina and went into exile in Caracas, Venezuela towards the end of 1974, where they lived until 1979. Sadosky worked at the Centro de Estudios de Desarrollo of the Universidad Central de Venezuela :-
His apartment in Caracas was the meeting place for many Argentines. Tomás Eloy Martínez wrote the first drafts of his book 'La novela de Perón' there, as indicated in the acknowledgments, and it was there that Raúl Alfonsín, passing through the city, met Sadosky through the mediation of the exiled radical leader Adolfo Gass. A mutual sympathy arose immediately between Alfonsín and Sadosky that lasted until the end of Sadosky's life. In Sadosky's obituary that he wrote in Clarín on 23 June 2005, Alfonsín praised him as follows: "Don Manuel was one of the best men I met in my life. Perhaps, mathematically speaking, the best."Sadosky and his wife Ratto de Sadosky then went to Barcelona, Spain. There Sadosky was a major player in the creation of the Museum of Science. Ratto de Sadosky died in Barcelona in January 1981.
In 1983 Argentina became a democracy under President Raúl Alfonsín. Sadosky had returned to Argentina at the beginning of 1983 and worked to support the candidacy of Alfonsín for the presidency. Sadosky was put in charge of Science and Technology within the Centro de Participación Política. A national meeting took place in Buenos Aires in October 1983, a few days before the election which made Alfonsín president. Two documents by Sadosky arising from this meeting were published in Ciencia, Tecnología y Desarrollo Ⓣ. In Palabras de clausura del encuentro Ⓣ, he summed up the proceeding of the meeting. He wrote:-
In the first place, it has been rigorous thought that has presided over the elaboration of the fundamental notions and the subsequent discussions. This must be said because ten years ago it became fashionable to replace rigorous thinking with "popular" thinking, as if it were pertinent for our society that reasoning be clumsy and conclusions approximate.In his second document Superación de la dependencia económica, social, política y mental Ⓣ he wrote:-
There are very few research works in the technological field, there are no technical theses, nor does the category of doctor of engineering exist. ... In the field of technology, this situation of dependency is reflected in the large number of people who install, repair and maintain equipment, but do not design it. ... We must start innovators very early because the stimulation of creativity has to start at an early age.After Raúl Alfonsín became President, he appointed Sadosky as Secretary of Science and Technology of the Nation, a role he continued to hold until July 1989. On 22 August 1984 he was appointed as Emeritus Professor of the University of Buenos Aires where he continued to contribute.
In February 1991 Sadosky married Katún Troise, daughter of a prominent doctor Emilio Troise. Pablo Jacovkis writes in  about the last years of Sadosky's life:-
Several of his collaborators continued to meet with him weekly to discuss scientific and technological policy problems, until shortly before his death in 2005, and the appreciation and respect that many scientists, academics and intellectuals always had for him is notable, despite the fact that in many cases their opinions diverged. He remained intellectually active until the end of his life; he was part of the editorial committee of the magazine 'Exactamente', edited by his Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires, and participated very actively in the meetings of its editorial committee. (He always arrived accompanied by Katún, who remained, very discreetly, outside the meeting room, waiting for him.)We have not mentioned his hobbies so let us note that as a young boy he loved soccer and, up to the age of 14, wanted to be a professional soccer player. He supported Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro all his life. Another of his great loves was the cinema.
Sadosky was awarded many honours. The Universidad Nacional del Litoral awarded him an honorary degree in 1994, as did the Universidad de la República, in Montevideo in December 2001. In 2003 the City of Buenos Aires declared him an Illustrious Citizen of the city. The book Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky Ⓣ was planned to celebrate Sadosky's 90th birthday and published in 2005. Eleven articles from that book are listed in the References to this biography. Let us end with a couple of quotes, the first from , one of the articles in this book:-
I think that Manuel is what is said to be a teacher. He created computing in Argentina; he promoted applied mathematics; supported science, education and scientific popularisation; he helped any young people who asked him for advice and counselling. His influence is felt not only in our country, but also in Uruguay, in Venezuela, in Spain, and in many other countries.Jorge Marirrodriga writes :-
His work stood out for a tireless interest in the training of scientists and for the attempt to convince political and academic authorities that the true wealth of a country is deposited in the brains of its citizens and not in the reserves of the Central Bank.The last tribute he received during his lifetime was endless applause when he attended, ten days before his death, the presentation of the Information and Communication Technologies Competitiveness Forum. He died at the age of 91 following a pulmonary spasm, complicated with cardiovascular problems. He was cremated in Memorial Park. He received posthumously the Premio Konex de Honor 2006: Humanidades. The centenary of his birth was marked with the publication of the book Manuel Sadosky: El sabio de la tribu Ⓣ (2014).
- C Altschul, Manuel en el recuerdo, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 85-88.
- C Berdichevsky, The Beginning of Computer Science in Argentina - Clementina - (1961-1966): A Personal Experience, in J Impagliazzo (ed.), History of Computing and Education 2, Proceedings of the Second Conference on the History of Computing and Education, August 21-24, Santiago, Chile (Springer, New York
- L Bermúdez and M Urquhart, Salvando la memoria de la computación en la Universidad de la República, Uruguay, a partir de los recuerdos del profesor Manuel Sadosky, Reportes Técnicos 03-19 (UR. FI - INCO, 2003).
- Biografia Dr Manuel Sadosky, Fundación Sadosky.
- C Borches, Historia, Instuto de Cálculo.
- M Bunge, El lugar de Manuel Sadosky, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 11-18.
- M Bunge, El talento del hijo, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 19-44.
- M Bunge, Between Two Worlds. Memoirs of a Philosopher-Scientist (Springer International, 2016).
- R Carnota and C Borches (eds.), Manuel Sadosky: El sabio de la tribu (Libros del Zorzal, 2014).
- Clementina, la memoriosa, Clarín (8 December 2015).
- A Diamant and S Cahn, Manuel Sadosky. Maestro, científico, político, humanista (Facultad de Psicología, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, 1994).
- Dr Manuel Sadosky's biography, Fundación Sadosky.
- E Dvorkin, Adiós, Dr Manuel Sadosky, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 95-100.
- G J Etcheverry, Manuel Sadosky: noventa anos de un maestro, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 61-66.
- L Gálvez, Historias de Inmigración (Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial Argentina, 2012).
- A Giacchino and B Gasparri, Alberto Enrique Juan Fesquet y la Enseñanza de las Ciencias Naturales en la Argentina, Historia Natural (3) 12 (1) (2022), 165-180.
- A S Householder, Review: Cálculo numérico y gráfico, by Manuel Sadosky, Mathematical Reviews MR0054335 (14,906b).
- P Jacovkis, Manuel Sadosky y su Impacto en la Ciencia y en la Política Argentina, in Raúl Carnota and Carlos Borches (eds.), Manuel Sadosky. El sabio de la tribu (Libros del Zorzal, Buenos Aires, 2014), 17-83.
- P Jacovkis, Al maestro, con carino, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, University of Buenos Aires (7 December 2006).
- P Jacovkis, Mi visión de Manuel Sadosky, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 67-84.
- P M Jacovkis, Manuel Sadosky (1914-2005) (Spanish), Rev. Un. Mat. Argentina 46 (1) (2005), 67-71.
- P R Kanof, Manuel Sadosky ciencia con conciencia en América (Paidós, 2021).
- S Kovadloff, Semblanza de un argentino inusual, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 101-112.
- Manuel Sadosky Biography, JewAge.
- Manuel Sadosky. Premio Konex de Honor 2006: Humanidades, Fundacion Konex (18 June 2005).
- J Marirrodriga, Manuel Sadosky, matemático, pionero de la ciencia en Latinoamérica, El País (26 June 2005).
- T E Martínez, El cero y el infinito, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 55-60.
- L Moledo, Fallecio Manuel Sadosky a los 92 años de edad, Página 12 (19 June 2005).
- I Naselli, Maestro sin pizarra y sin punteros, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 89-94.
- C Sadosky, Cora Ratto de Sadosky, in B A Case and A M Leggett (eds.), Complexities: Women in Mathematics (Princeton University Press, 2016).
- M Sadosky, My friend Mischa Cotlar, in Cora Sadosky (ed.), Analysis and partial differential equations (Marcel Dekker Inc., New York and Basel, 1990), xxv-xxvii.
- M Sadosky, Progresos recientes y evolución del cálculo mecánico y automático, Ciencia y Técnica 115 (580) (1950), 170-186.
- C Sagol, Murió Manuel Sadosky, Educar (21 June 2005).
- I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005).
- A Toronchik, Figura clave de los años de oro de la ciencia nacional. Murió el prestigioso científico argentino Manuel Sadosky, Clarín (19 June 2005).
- G Weinberg, Un científico ejemplar, in I Stephanus (ed.), Honoris causa: El Legado De Manuel Sadosky/ the Legacy of Manuel Sadosky (Libros Del Zorza, 2005), 45-54.
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Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update November 2022
Last Update November 2022