History of Numerical Analysis


Oral Histories





Hans J. Stetter

Oral History (pdf)

Interviewer: Philip J. Davis

Hans Stetter was born in Germany and lived in Munich until the age of 35. Although he spent one year as an undergraduate exchange student at the Agricultural College of Colorado and was awarded an honorable mention in the Putnam exam.  He was always confident in his mathematical talent even before he entered school, and was self-motivated in his mathematical studies. He attended the Technical University of Munich with the goal of becoming a school teacher. After obtaining his Masters, a crucial event changed his life. Robert Sauer offered him a research position working on numerical methods and computing for fluids. He describes his work with Sauer, and discusses the beginnings of numerical analysis and computing in Germany. After, his thesis on numerical flow about wings, he worked on numerical methods for hyperbolic partial differential equations, and then switched to numerical methods for ordinary differential equations which he found underdeveloped at the time. He comments on the impact he had on this field, and discusses the role of numerical experimentation and intuition in numerical work. In the last part of the interview, he describes his introduction to and subsequent work in numerical polynomial algebra.

Key words: numerical analysis, fluid flow, PERM computer, hyperbolic partial differential equations, ordinary differential equations, higher order difference methods, Richardson extrapolation, defect correction, numerical polynomial algebra

Funding Agency: United States Air Force

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

People: Robert Sauer, Fritz Bauer, Klaus Samelson, Lothar Collatz, Eduard Stiefel, Heinz Rutishauser, Richard Courant, Jim Douglas, Avrim Douglis, Seymour Parter, P. E. Zadunaisky, Lewis Fry Richardson, Oskar Perron

Location: Technical University of Munich, Technical University of Vienna, Dundee Conferences

Citation: Hans J. Stetter, Oral history interview by Philip Davis, 8 June, 2005, Technical University of Vienna. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, PA

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