Microorganisms occupy almost every niche on earth. They play critical roles in maintaining ecological balance, atmospheric C/N cycle, and human health. Microbes live in consortia with metabolite exchange or signal communication. Quantitative and analytical tools are becoming increasingly important to study microbial consortia dynamics. We argue that a combined reductionist and holistic approach will be important to understanding the assembly rules and spatiotemporal population dynamics of the microbial community (MICOM). Reductionism allows us to reconstruct complex MICOM from isolated or simple synthetic consortia. Holism allows us to understand microbes as a community with cooperation and competition. Here we review the recent development of quantitative and analytical tools to uncover the underlying principles in microbial communities that govern their spatiotemporal change and interaction dynamics. Mathematical models and analytical tools will continue to provide essential knowledge and expand our capability to manipulate and control microbial consortia.