History of Numerical Analysis


Oral Histories





Garrett Birkhoff

Full Article (pdf)

Garrett Birkhoff discusses the development of scientific computing and the scientific computing community from 1945 through 1970 in the context of its applications to fluid dynamics, reactor computation, and the computer representation of surfaces. He places special emphasis on the influence of John von Neumann.

Key words: numerical fluid dynamics, reactor computation, computerized surface representation, shock waves, wakes, EDVAC, Mark I, Mark II, numerical weather prediction, ENIAC, NORC, successive overrelaxation (SOR), artificial viscosity, particle-in-cell (PIC) method, Taylor instability, vortex methods, conjugate gradient method, ADI method, Monte-Carlo methods, splines, bicubic spline interpolation, spline blending, finite element method

Funding Agency: Office of Naval Research, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission

Time frame: 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's

People: John von Neumann, Howard Aiken, Mina Rees, Jules Charney, R. Fjortoft, Norbert Weiner, David Young, Stanley Frankel, Peter Lax, Francis Harlow, Nicolas Metropolis, Richard Varga, Eduard Steifel, Donald Peaceman, Henry Rachford, Jim Douglas, Gene Golub, Robert Richtmeyer, H. L. Garabedian, Carl de Boor, M. Donald McLaren, I. Schoenberg, Feodor Theilheimer, James Ferguson, Ellis Johnson, William Gordon, Martin Schultz

Location: Harvard University; Naval Proving Ground (Dahlgren); Harvard Computation Laboratory, Ballistics Research Laboratory, (Aberdeen); Los Alamos National Laboratory, Westinghouse Atomic Power Division, Argonne National Laboratory, David Taylor Model Basin, General Motors Research Laboratory, Boeing
Copyright: Reprinted from "A History of Scientific Computing," Stephen G.
Nash, editor, pp. 63-87. (c) 1990 ACM Press (Association for Computing
Machinery, Inc.) by permission.



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