History of Numerical Analysis


Oral Histories



Gene Golub

Oral History (pdf)

Interviewer: Thomas Haigh

Gene Golub, a numerical analyst and Fletcher Jones Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, discusses his career to date. Born in Chicago in 1932, Golub attended several colleges before graduating from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1953. He stayed on for graduate study, receiving a Ph.D. in 1959 under the direction of Abe Taub. Golub discusses his involvement with the ILLIAC computer and its creators and users and his work on statistical applications. In 1959, Golub left for Cambridge, England on a postdoctoral fellowship with Maurice Wilkes’ EDSAC II group. After returning to the USA, he accepted a visiting position in the Computer Science Division of Stanford University. After a one year appointment at the Courant Institute during 1965-6, he returned to Stanford as Associate Professor and remains a faculty member there. Golub outlines the evolution of numerical analysis within the computer science department at Stanford, including its early history with George Forsythe and Jack Herriot and his later role in creating the Scientific Computing and Computational Mathematics program. Golub reviews his extensive list of publications and collaborations, identifying those he considers most significant and explaining their origins and impact. Golub has been very active within the academic community, and explains his long involvement with the Householder meeting series and participation in ACM SIGNUM, SIAM, and the National Academies of Sciences and of Engineering. He has been most active within SIAM, where he served as President and member of the Board, the founding editor of its journals on Scientific and Statistical Computing and on Matrix Analysis and Applications, and a founder of the affiliated International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM).

Gene Golub died on November 16, 2007 at Stanford University hospital. He had not yet completed his review of this manuscript.

Key words:  ILLIAC, least-squares problems, singular value decomposition, Poisson equation, domain decomposition, differentiation of pseudo-inverses, inverse eigenvalue problem, conjugate gradient method, Gauss quadrature

Funding Agency: U. S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation

Time frame: 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's

People:  Bill Gear, Abraham Taub, Maurice Wilkes, Eugene Isaacson, George Forsythe, William Kahan, Richard S. Varga, James Wilkinson, Christian Reinsch, Peter Businger, Victor Pereyra, Charles Van Loan, Bill Buzbee, Paul Concus, Carl de Boor, Daniel L. Boley, Alston Householder

Location: University of Illinois, Cambridge University, Stanford University, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Citation:  Gene Golub, Oral history interview by Thomas Haigh, 22 and 23, October, 2005, Stanford University. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, PA

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