History of Numerical Analysis


Oral Histories





Philip Thompson


Philip Thompson recalls his work in numerical weather prediction. He discusses the work of L. F. Richardson, meeting Jules Charney and subsequently John von Neumann. He describes the Numerical Meteorology Project at the Institute for Advanced Study, work on simple models of the atmosphere and his interaction with John von Neumann and Herman Goldstine. He recounts his efforts to organize the Atmospheric Analysis Laboratory at the Cambridge Air Force Research Center and research in numerical weather prediction, micro-meteorology, and cloud physics. He describes the establishment and work of the Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit and his subsequent work at the University of Stockholm. He recalls his decision to become the associate director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Finally, he comments on the impact of mathematical models, numerical analysis, and scientific computing on weather prediction.

Key words: numerical weather prediction, atmospheric models, ENIAC, baroclinic models, IBM701, finite difference methods, semi-implicit methods, spectral methods, IBM704, CDC6600

Funding Agency:  U. S. Air Force, U. S. Navy, U. S. Weather Bureau

Time frame: 1940's, 1950's, 1960's

People: L.F. Richardson, Jules Charney, John von Neumann, Vladimir Zworykin, Ragnar Fjortoft, Robert Richtmeyer, Herman Goldstine, Edward Lorenz

Location: Institute for Advanced Study, Cambridge Air Force Research Center, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MIT, Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit (Suitland, MD),
University of Stockholm, National Center for Atmospheric Research (Boulder, CO)

Copyright: Charles Babbage Institute



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