By Albers D.J., Alexanderson G.L. (eds.)

This exact assortment includes broad and in-depth interviews with mathematicians who've formed the sphere of arithmetic within the 20th century. amassed via mathematicians revered locally for his or her ability in speaking mathematical themes to a broader viewers, the booklet can be wealthy with images and contains an creation by way of Philip J. Davis.

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Taylor had proposed the same explanation a few months earlier in England. ” But most important of all, I realized that the computer was going to influence profoundly the nature of applied mathematics. Of course, von Neumann was a friend of mine and we discussed informally many problems, especially compressible flows and shock waves around projectiles. MP: World War II was then very influential. Birkhoff : Yes. Mathematical physics and engineering are very different, and I have been more attracted to engineering mathematics, which is concerned with practical problems of immediate importance, than to mathematical physics.

If the target was ten meters away, a radar echo would come back after about 33 nanoseconds. I first worked on these proximity fuzes with a secret committee consisting of Morse, von Neumann, and one or two others, and set up by Warren Weaver. We studied their effectiveness for anti-aircraft use, and that involved me in probabilistic work. Our task was to estimate the factor by which the “probability of kill” of an enemy airplane by an anti-aircraft shell would be increased if the usual “time of flight” fuzes were replaced by proximity fuzes.

George D. Birkhoff’s Work on the Four Color Problem MP: Today, one seems to need computers even to solve the four color problem! ” The concept of a “reducible map” was invented by my father when he was at Princeton in 1912. The four color problem was one of my father’s hobbies. I remember that all through the 1920s, my mother was drawing maps that he would then proceed to color. He was always trying to prove the four color theorem. MP: There’s a story that has been circulating in this area. I should ask you whether it is apochryphal.

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