History of Numerical Analysis


Oral Histories





Albert M. Erisman

Oral History (pdf)

Interviewer: Thomas Haigh

Albert M. Erisman grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Northern Illinois University in 1962. On graduation he worked for two years as a teacher, before returning to school at Iowa State University where he received his applied mathematics Ph.D. in 1969. Erisman then went to work for Boeing in Seattle, where he remained until retiring in 2001. He began as part of a small group of mathematicians, providing internal consulting services. He became closely involved with Boeing’s internal library of scientific routines, BCSLIB. Erisman rose within Boeing Computer Services during the 1970s, managing its mathematical and modeling services. He discusses BCS and its business strategy, the role of applied mathematics within Boeing, and the development and function of BCSLIB. Erisman also explains a shift during the early-1980s toward use of Cray systems, and the challenges involved in optimizing a library for vector systems. By the 1990s, he was Directory of Technology for Boeing, with broad responsibilities for IT and mathematical research. He discusses the contributions of scientific and technical computing to Boeing’s success. Erisman’s main personal contribution to research in mathematical software came in the area of sparse matrices, including his long-term collaboration with John Reid and Iain Duff.

Key words: Boeing, Boeing Computer Services, mathematical modeling, mathematical software libraries, BCSLIB, LINPACK, EISPACK, IMSL, NAG, IBM-SSP, aircraft design, sparse matrices, Cray, vector systems

Time frame:  1970's, 1980's, 1990's

People: John Reid, Iain Duff, Bob Lambert, Bob Brayton, Richard Sincovec, Wayne Cowell, Velvel Kahan, Ken Neves, Jim Phillips, John Lewis, David Ferguson

Location: Northern Illinois University, Iowa State University, Ames Laboratory, Boeing  

Citation: Albert M. Erisman, Oral history interview by Thomas Haigh, 6 and 7 July, 2005, Bellevue, WA. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, PA


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