History of Numerical Analysis


Oral Histories





Frank Stenger

Oral History (pdf)

Interviewer: Philip J. Davis

Frank Stenger discusses his career in numerical methods, including his best known work on sinc methods, and his long tenure at the University of Utah.  Stenger, who left his native Hungary as a youth and moved Canada, began by studying engineering physics at the undergraduate and master's level at the University of Alberta before switching to mathematics for his Ph.D., also at Alberta.  Stenger then moved to the University of Michigan, where he spent three years before a rift in the mathematics department motivated him to accept a position at the University of Utah, where he has remained for over thirty years.  Stenger also spent one year at the National Bureau of Standards, where he worked most closely with Frank Olver.
Stenger's work with sinc methods – a term coined in the 1950s by Harry Nyquist and Claude Shannon – began when he substantially revised a paper written by John McNamee and Lee Lorch on Whittaker’s Cardinal Function. The work took off, as sinc methods turned out to be an excellent tool for making approximations.  They can be used to solve problems in a wide range of areas, including in electrical and fluids problems, and is the primary wave tool used in wavelet applications.

In addition to numerous articles, Stenger has authored a 565-page text called Numerical methods based on Sinc and analytic functions, a jointly authored text on approximation called  Selected topics in approximation and computation and has produced a software packages for quadrature, for solving ordinary differential equations, and most recently, a  package, written in MATLAB, for utilizing sinc methods for solving nearly all problems stemming from applications, including partial differential and integral equations.  Interestingly, during his time at Michigan, Stenger shared an office with MATLAB developer Cleve Moler.  Also, a former student, John Lund and his colleague, Ken Bowers, wrote a 335-page text, Sinc methods for quadrature and differential equations.

Key words: sinc methods, approximation, quadrature, ordinary differential equations, wavelets, MATLAB

Funding Agency: US Department of Commerce

Time frame:  1960's, 1970's, 1980's

People: John McNamee, Frank Olver, Edmund Taylor Whittaker, Harry Nyquist, Claude Shannon, V. A. Kotelnikov, Cleve Moler

Location: University of Alberta, National Bureau of Standards, University of Michigan, University of Utah

Citation: Frank Stenger, Oral history interview by Philip Davis, 24 June, 2004, Brown University, Providence, RI. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Philadelphia, PA

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