• 1934 June 06
    (b.) - ?


An American mathematician and computer scientist, the W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Emeritus of Computer Science and a Professor of Mathematics at Purdue University, he was the founder of the ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software and is the author of more than 20 books and approximately 300 research articles. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and grew up in small towns in Oklahoma. As a teenager, his father was assigned to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he lived for three years. He earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Mathematics from Oklahoma State University in 1954 and 1956. While studying there, he spent his summers in southern California, working in the aerospace industry. He then moved to the California Institute of Technology, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1959 under the supervision of Arthur Erdélyi; his dissertation concerned approximation theory. After taking a one-year postdoctoral position at the National Bureau of Standards, he became a researcher for General Motors. In 1964 he left GM and joined the recently-founded Computer Science Department at Purdue, which he later headed from 1983 to 1996. He founded the ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software in 1975, and was its editor-in-chief until 1993. He was chair of the Computing Research Association from 1991 to 1993. He showed an early interest in computing, publishing a paper titled "Electronic Brains" as a college sophomore. Although his early research was on the mathematics of approximation theory, he spent most of his career working in the analysis of algorithms for solving numerical problems, and particularly on the solution of elliptic partial differential equations. His Introduction to Computer Science (with J. K. Rice, published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston in 1969) was the "leading textbook of the day" and emphasized general principles of algorithms and data structures rather than specific programming languages, the focus of previous introductory CS texts. It was translated into three other languages. His other books include: "Solving Elliptic Problems with ELLPACK" (Springer-Verlag, 1985); "Mathematical Aspects of Scientific Software" (Springer-Verlag, 1988); "Expert Systems for Scientific Computing" (North Holland, 1992); and "Enabling Technologies for Computational Science" (Kluwer, 2000). He was named the Brooks Fortune Professor in 1989 and in 1994, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his "establishing and seminal contributions to the field of mathematical software". He is also a Fellow of the AAAS and a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.