Timeline of computational mathematics

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This is a timeline of key developments in computational mathematics.










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John von Neumann Hungarian-American mathematician and physicist (1903–1957)

John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, computer scientist, engineer and polymath. He was regarded as having perhaps the widest coverage of any mathematician of his time and was said to have been "the last representative of the great mathematicians who were equally at home in both pure and applied mathematics". He integrated pure and applied sciences.

Mandelbrot set Fractal named after mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot

The Mandelbrot set is the set of complex numbers for which the function does not diverge to infinity when iterated from , i.e., for which the sequence , , etc., remains bounded in absolute value.

Stanislaw Ulam Polish-American mathematician

Stanisław Marcin Ulam was a Polish-American scientist in the fields of mathematics and nuclear physics. He participated in the Manhattan Project, originated the Teller–Ulam design of thermonuclear weapons, discovered the concept of the cellular automaton, invented the Monte Carlo method of computation, and suggested nuclear pulse propulsion. In pure and applied mathematics, he proved some theorems and proposed several conjectures.

Monte Carlo methods, or Monte Carlo experiments, are a broad class of computational algorithms that rely on repeated random sampling to obtain numerical results. The underlying concept is to use randomness to solve problems that might be deterministic in principle. They are often used in physical and mathematical problems and are most useful when it is difficult or impossible to use other approaches. Monte Carlo methods are mainly used in three problem classes: optimization, numerical integration, and generating draws from a probability distribution.

The MANIAC I was an early computer built under the direction of Nicholas Metropolis at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. It was based on the von Neumann architecture of the IAS, developed by John von Neumann. As with all computers of its era, it was a one-of-a-kind machine that could not exchange programs with other computers. Metropolis chose the name MANIAC in the hope of stopping the rash of silly acronyms for machine names, although von Neumann may have suggested the name to him.

Nicholas Metropolis American mathematician

Nicholas Constantine Metropolis was a Greek-American physicist.

Bill Gosper American mathematician and programmer

Ralph William Gosper Jr., known as Bill Gosper, is an American mathematician and programmer. Along with Richard Greenblatt, he may be considered to have founded the hacker community, and he holds a place of pride in the Lisp community. The Gosper curve and the Gosper's algorithm are named after him.

Monte Carlo N-Particle Transport (MCNP) is a general-purpose, continuous-energy, generalized-geometry, time-dependent, Monte Carlo radiation transport code designed to track many particle types over broad ranges of energies and is developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Specific areas of application include, but are not limited to, radiation protection and dosimetry, radiation shielding, radiography, medical physics, nuclear criticality safety, detector design and analysis, nuclear oil well logging, accelerator target design, fission and fusion reactor design, decontamination and decommissioning. The code treats an arbitrary three-dimensional configuration of materials in geometric cells bounded by first- and second-degree surfaces and fourth-degree elliptical tori.

John R. Pasta was an American computational physicist and computer scientist who is remembered today for the Fermi–Pasta–Ulam–Tsingou experiment, the result of which was much discussed among physicists and researchers in the fields of dynamical systems and chaos theory, and as the head of the department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1964 to 1970.

In physics, the Fermi–Pasta–Ulam–Tsingou problem or formerly the Fermi–Pasta–Ulam problem was the apparent paradox in chaos theory that many complicated enough physical systems exhibited almost exactly periodic behavior – called Fermi–Pasta–Ulam–Tsingou recurrence – instead of the expected ergodic behavior. This came as a surprise, as Fermi, certainly, expected the system to thermalize in a fairly short time. That is, it was expected for all vibrational modes to eventually appear with equal strength, as per the equipartition theorem, or, more generally, the ergodic hypothesis. Yet here was a system that appeared to evade the ergodic hypothesis. Although the recurrence is easily observed, it eventually became apparent that over much, much longer time periods, the system does eventually thermalize. Multiple competing theories have been proposed to explain the behavior of the system, and it remains a topic of active research.

Computational statistics Interface between statistics and computer science

Computational statistics, or statistical computing, is the bond between statistics and computer science. It means statistical methods that are enabled by using computational methods. It is the area of computational science specific to the mathematical science of statistics. This area is also developing rapidly, leading to calls that a broader concept of computing should be taught as part of general statistical education.

"Equation of State Calculations by Fast Computing Machines" is a scholarly article published by Nicholas Metropolis, Arianna W. Rosenbluth, Marshall N. Rosenbluth, Augusta H. Teller, and Edward Teller in the Journal of Chemical Physics in 1953. This paper proposed what became known as the Metropolis Monte Carlo algorithm, which forms the basis for Monte Carlo statistical mechanics simulations of atomic and molecular systems.

This is a timeline of pure and applied mathematics history. It is divided here into three stages, corresponding to stages in the development of mathematical notation: a "rhetorical" stage in which calculations are described purely by words, a "syncopated" stage in which quantities and common algebraic operations are beginning to be represented by symbolic abbreviations, and finally a "symbolic" stage, in which comprehensive notational systems for formulas are the norm.

Aneesur Rahman

Aneesur Rahman pioneered the application of computational methods to physical systems. His 1964 paper on liquid argon studied a system of 864 argon atoms on a CDC 3600 computer, using a Lennard-Jones potential. His algorithms still form the basis for many codes written today. Moreover, he worked on a wide variety of problems, such as the microcanonical ensemble approach to lattice gauge theory, which he invented with David J E Callaway.

Lateral computing is a lateral thinking approach to solving computing problems. Lateral thinking has been made popular by Edward de Bono. This thinking technique is applied to generate creative ideas and solve problems. Similarly, by applying lateral-computing techniques to a problem, it can become much easier to arrive at a computationally inexpensive, easy to implement, efficient, innovative or unconventional solution.

Robert Davis Richtmyer was an American physicist, mathematician, educator, author, and musician.

The following timeline starts with the invention of the modern computer in the late interwar period.

The following is a timeline of scientific computing, also known as computational science.

Mary Tsingou American mathematician

Mary Tsingou is an American physicist and mathematician of Greek descent. She was one of the first programmers on the MANIAC computer at Los Alamos National Laboratory and is best known for having coded the celebrated computer experiment with Enrico Fermi, John Pasta, and Stanislaw Ulam which became an inspiration for the fields of chaos theory and scientific computing and was a turning point in soliton theory.

The following is a timeline of numerical analysis after 1945, and deals with developments after the invention of the modern electronic computer, which began during Second World War. For a fuller history of the subject before this period, see timeline and history of mathematics.


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