History of Numerical Analysis

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James H. Wilkinson

Oral History (pdf)

Interviewer John C. Nash

James H. Wilkinson recalls his early interest and involvement in scientific computing. He recounts his pre- electronic computer calculations at the Cambridge Maths Laboratory and at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington on applications such as supersonic flow, thermodynamics and ballistics and the importance of getting mathematicians to take numerical analysis seriously. He discusses his postwar work with Alan Turing on the design and programming of the Pilot-ACE and how it informed his work in round off error analysis and solving eigenvalue problems.

Key words: supersonic flow, thermodynamics, ballistics, fragmentation, Manchester Differential Analyzer, EDSAC, SEAC, floating point error numerical linear algebra, eigenvalues, rounding error, acceleration methods, power method, Pilot-ACE, Deuce

Funding Agency:

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

People: Douglas Hartree, Vannevar Bush, Charles E. T. Goodwin, Alan Turing, Maurice Wilkes, Leslie Fox, Frank W. J. Olver, Charles W. Clenshaw, Michael Woodger, Harry Huskey, David Wheeler

Location: Cambridge Maths Laboratory, National Physical Laboratory, Bushy Park (NPL), Aberdeen Proving Ground (USA), Fort Halstead (Sevenoaks, Kent)

Citation: James H. Wilkinson Oral history interview by John C. Nash, 13 July, 1984, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, PA
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