A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century by Nicholas Metropolis

By Nicholas Metropolis

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There was a feeling, I think, that this was the great wave of the future. " Of course, this is the ambition of our friends, the people in artificial intelligence, but I have never quivered in terror at the thought. I should like to say a few words about my recollections of Aiken as 28 GARRETT BIRKHOFF Director of the Harvard Computation Laboratory. It was dedicated to discrete mathematics in spite of the computation of the Bessel functions, and Howard Aiken kept trying to induce me to work on relevant problems, particularly those involving Boolean algebra.

1977). " Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. Stevenson, W. (1976). " Harcourt, New York. Winterbotham, F. W. (1974). " Harper, New York. DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE A N D STATE UNIVERSITY BLACKSBURG, VIRGINIA A HISTORY OF COMPUTING IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY The COLOSSUS B. RANDELL In October 1975, after an official silence lasting 32 years, the British Government made a set of captioned photographs of COLOSSUS available at the Public Record Office. These confirm the fact that a series of programmable electronic digital computers was built in Britain during World War II, the first being operational in 1943.

The matrix of coefficients was very sparse; it only had five nonzero entries in each row. At the time I was unaware of the book of Kantorovich and Krylov, which was not translated into English until 1955. But it really would not have helped anyway: The main problem was not to get better difference approximations to the Laplace equation, but to solve the large system of simultaneous linear equations to which the five-point approximation led. My main concern at that time was the competition from analog methods, because there was also the electrolytic tank analogy.

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