Daniel Kálmán Biss[1] (born 1977 in Akron, Ohio)[2] is an American mathematician and member of the Illinois Senate from the 9th district, serving since January 2013. The district includes Chicago's northern suburbs, including Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, Wilmette, and Winnetka. Biss previously served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013.

Personal life, education and mathematical career

Biss was born into a family of musicians: his brother is the noted pianist Jonathan Biss, his parents are the violinists Paul Biss and Miriam Fried, and his grandmother was the Russian-born cellist Raya Garbousova.[3][4]

Biss attended Bloomington High School North in Bloomington, Indiana, graduating in 1995. In 1994, he attended the prestigious Research Science Institute at MIT. Biss subsequently earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, graduating summa cum laude in 1998, and his Ph.D. at MIT in 2002, both in mathematics.[5] He won the 1999 Morgan Prize for his outstanding research as an undergraduate, and was a Clay Research Fellow from 2002 to 2007.[6] His doctoral advisor was Michael J. Hopkins. He was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in the fall of 2003.[7]

Biss created and wrote the mathematics behind the plot in An Abundance of Katherines, a novel by Vlogbrothers co-creator and author John Green.[8][9] Daniel Biss is frequently referred to as "Nerdfighteria's Resident Mathematician."[10] He is periodically consulted on matters of a mathematical nature by Green on his web series.

Prior to running for State Representative, Biss was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Chicago. He published several papers about Grassmannian manifolds in prestigious journals, including the Annals of Mathematics, that later were discovered to contain a flaw which rendered the proofs invalid. In 2008, Biss published retractions in the journals.[5][11][12]

In the Annals of Mathematics he argued that there is "no difference between studying real vector bundles and matroid bundles."[13] Nikolai Mnev, a mathematician at the Steklov Institute of Mathematics at St. Petersburg in Russia,[14] found that the proof written by Biss in his article was "seriously flawed". When Mnev found the flaw, Biss did not immediately retract it; it took nearly four years.[15] In his one-page retraction in July 2009 in the Annals of Mathematics, Biss wrote, "The author would like to thank Nikolai Mnev for drawing his attention to this error."[16]

Illinois House of Representatives

Committee assignments

  • Appropriations – Elementary & Secondary Education
  • Personnel & Pensions
  • Consumer Protection
  • Small Business Empowerment & Workforce Development
  • International Trade & Commerce
  • Bio-Technology
  • Appropriations – Higher Education[17]

Electoral history

Illinois State Representative: Results 2008–2010[18]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2008 Daniel Biss 25,959 48.52% Elizabeth Coulson 27,540 51.48%
2010 Daniel K. Biss 23,134 54.78% Hamilton Chang 19,096 45.22%
Illinois State Senate: Results 2012[18]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
2012 Daniel Biss 68,064 66.63% Glenn Farkas 34,081 33.37%

Political views

According to a 2008 Political Courage Test, Daniel Biss supports carbon emissions limits. Biss is pro-choice, supporting legal abortion. He supports allowing high school graduates to pay in-state tuition at public universities regardless of immigration status, as well as state funding to raise the salaries of teachers.[19] He received a 0% rating by the NRA in 2010.[20] Biss has expressed support of labor unions[21] and has received $20,000 from AFSCME, the second largest donation to a state legislator.[22]

In 2013, Biss cosponsored SB 1, a bill that significantly reduced pension plans for retired state employees in an attempt to reduce debts in the state retirement system.[23] In May 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional.[24]


On November 10, 2011, Biss announced his intent to run for the Illinois Senate seat held by retiring Senator Jeffrey Schoenberg.[25] He won the election on November 6, 2012, receiving over 66% of the vote.[26]

Biss announced a run for Illinois Comptroller in the 2016 special election[27] but dropped out and endorsed opponent Susana Mendoza.[28]

Selected works

See also ——— (2009). "Erratum to "Oriented matroids, complex manifolds, and a combinatorial model for BU" [Adv. Math. 179 (2) (2003) 250–290]". Advances in Mathematics. 221 (2): 681. doi:10.1016/j.aim.2008.12.012. 
See also ——— (2009). "Erratum to "The homotopy type of the matroid Grassmannian"". Annals of Mathematics. 170: 493. doi:10.4007/annals.2009.170.493. 
See also Mnev, N. (2007). "On D.K. Biss' papers "The homotopy type of the matroid Grassmannian" and "Oriented matroids, complex manifolds, and a combinatorial model for BU"". arXiv:0709.1291Freely accessible [math.CO]. 


  1. ^ "Hoopes Prizes Awarded to Undergraduates and Thesis Advisers". Harvard Gazette. 28 May 1998. Retrieved 2 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Biss, Daniel K. (October 2000). "A Generalized Approach to the Fundamental Group" (PDF). The American Mathematical Monthly. Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved 2 June 2016. 
  3. ^ Swinkels, Niels (June 12, 2013). "Jonathan Biss: A Super, Human, Musical Mission". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  4. ^ Giovetti, Olivia (January 18, 2011). "Jonathan Biss". Time Out New York. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Szpiro, George G. (2010). "20: Brilliant but Fallible". A mathematical medley: fifty easy pieces on mathematics. American Mathematical Society. pp. 97–99. 
  6. ^ Daniel Biss, Clay Mathematics Institute
  7. ^ Institute for Advanced Study: A Community of Scholars
  8. ^ Nir, Oaz (2008). "Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines" (PDF). Notices of the AMS. American Mathematical Society. 55 (9): 1096–98. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Green, John (2006). An Abundance of Katherines. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-47688-1. 
  10. ^ vlogbrothers (2015-10-20), Nerdfighteria's Resident Comptroller?, retrieved 2016-04-14 
  11. ^ Comment by Laura Anderson on September 21, 2007 to Chicago Reader article "John Edwards and -- Daniel Biss?" -- Anderson's account of the events
  12. ^ Error were discovered variously between 2005 (Anderson) and April 2006 (Mnev), Mnev posted September 2007, Biss submitted errata November 2008 (Annals) and December 2008 (Advances), which were published July 2009 (Annals) and March 2009 (Advances)
  13. ^ Wong, Willie. (2016-05-02). “In 2003 a startling breakthrough was made…” StackExchange (Match).
  14. ^ "Nikolai Mnev Homepage". www.pdmi.ras.ru. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  15. ^ "Doron Zeilberger's 112nd Opinion". www.math.rutgers.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  16. ^ Biss, Daniel K. (July 2009). "Erratum to "The homotopy type of the matroid Grassmannian"" (PDF). Annals of Mathematics. 2nd. 170-1. doi:10.4007/annals.2009.170.493. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  17. ^ "Representative Daniel Biss (D)". www.ilga.gov. Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "Election Results". Cook County Board of Elections. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Daniel Biss' Issue Positions". Project Vote Smart. Philipsburg, Montana: One Common Ground. 2008. 
  20. ^ "Daniel K. Biss' Political Summary on Issue: Guns". Project Vote Smart. Philipsburg, Montana: One Common Ground. Retrieved November 25, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Biss Kicks Off Campaign With 150 Strong" (PDF) (Press release). Evanston, Illinois: Daniel Biss for State Representative. September 14, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Wage increases slow, but not campaign contributions". Journal Standard (online ed.). Freeport, Illinois. Illinois Statehouse News. November 9, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2015. 
  23. ^ "SB 1 - Amends State Employee Pension Plans - Key Vote". Project Vote Smart. Philipsburg, Montana: One Common Ground. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  24. ^ Pearson, Rick; Geiger, Kim (8 May 2015). "Illinois Supreme Court rules landmark pension law unconstitutional". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  25. ^ Svitek, Patrick (November 10, 2011). "State Rep. Biss to seek Schoenberg's state Senate seat". The Daily Northwestern. 
  26. ^ Chang, Chi-an (November 7, 2012). "Biss Wins 9th State Senate District Race". Patch Media. Retrieved 2016-09-26. 
  27. ^ Pearson, Rick (22 September 2015). "City Clerk Mendoza gets major union backing in state comptroller bid". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  28. ^ Biss, Daniel. "Comptroller Campaign Update". Biss for Illinois (Press release). Evanston, Illinois. Retrieved 2015-11-25. 

External links