History of Numerical Analysis


Oral Histories





Friedrich L. Bauer

Oral History (pdf)                                                                    

Interviewer: Ulf Hashagen

Professor Friedrich L. Bauer describes his career in physics, computing, and numerical analysis. Professor Bauer was born in Thaldorf, Germany near Kelheim. After his schooling in Thaldorf and Pfarrkirchen, he received his baccalaureate at the Albertinium, a boarding school in Munich. He then faced the draft into the German Army, serving first in the German labor service. After training in France and a deployment to the Eastern Front in Kursk, he was sent to officer's school. His reserve unit was captured in the Ruhr Valley in 1945 during the American advance. He returned to Pfarrkirchen in September 1945 and in spring of 1946 enrolled in mathematics and physics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitäat, München. He studied mathematics with Oscar Perron and Heinrich Tietze and physics with Arnold Sommerfeld and Paul August Mann. He was offered a full assistantship with Fritz Bopp and finished his Ph.D. in 1951 writing on group representations in particle physics. He then joined a group in Munich led by a professor of mathematics Robert Sauer and the electrical engineer Hans Piloty, working with a colleague Klaus Samelson on the design of the PERM, a computer based in part on the Whirlwind concept. By 1955, the PERM was complete and he continued work that he had begun in 1951 on concepts in automatic programming.  This led to work with Heinz Rutishauser and eventually work on the development of ALGOL60. Professor Bauer completed his habilitation dissertation at Munich in 1954, working on quadratically convergent methods for determining the roots of polynomials, and became a lecturer at the Technical University of Munich. In 1958, he took a professorship at Mainz, working on a Z22 and a faster Siemens machine. In 1963, he returned to Munich, taking up a new full professorship, where the focus of his work turned to computer science, programming languages, in particular.  Finally, Professor Bauer reviews his work in numerical linear algebra which started with his PhD advisor, Fritz Bopp, asking him to calculate eigenvalues of matrices and continued beyond his habilitation dissertation on methods for finding roots of polynomials. He worked on numerical analysis related to engineering problems such as stability of plates and power networks and continued his work on eigenvalue problems and characteristic roots. In the latter case, he had contacts with Heinz Rutishauser and Alston Householder, among others. After 1968, his research turned primarily to work on programming languages and computer science.

Key words: PERM, ALGOL60,  automatic programming, Z22, stability of plates, power networks, eigenvalues, LR transformation, quadratic convergence

Funding Agencies: Atomic Energy Commission, Office of Naval Research

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

People: Robert Sauer, Hans Piloty, Klaus Samelson, Eduard Steifel, Heinz Rutishauser, Alston Householder, George Forsythe

Location: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitäat, University of Mainz, Technical University of Munich, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Stanford University

Citation: Friedrich L. Bauer, Oral history interview by Ulf Hashagen, 21 and 26 July, 2004, Technische Universität München. SIAM, Philadelphia, PA

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