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Early Computing at Los Alamos

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129404D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 12 page(s) / 50K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

N. METROPOLIS: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Computing at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory evolved during World War 11 from hand calculation through punched-card computation to electronic computing on the ENIAC. The paper describes the evolution of the methods and their applications: computations of equations in nuclear reactions in developing the atomic bomb.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1982 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Early Computing at Los Alamos

N. METROPOLIS

E. C. NELSON

(Image Omitted: © 1982 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Authors' Address: N. Metropolis, Los Alamos National Laboratory, T- DOT, Man Stop B210, P.O. Box 1663, Los Alamos, NM 87545. E. C. Nelson, TRW Defense Systems Group, One Space Park, R3/2408, Redondo Beach, CA 90278. This work was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy. © 1982 AFIPS 0164-1239/82/040348-357

Early Computing at Los Alamos

N. METROPOLIS

E. C. NELSON 00/00)

Computing at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory evolved during World War 11 from hand calculation through punched-card computation to electronic computing on the ENIAC. The paper describes the evolution of the methods and their applications: computations of equations in nuclear reactions in developing the atomic bomb.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [History of Computing] -- hardware, people General Terms: Human Factors, Performance Additional Key Words and Phrases: Los Alamos, hand computing, punched-card computation, EN/AC, J. von Neumann

1. Introduction

During World War II, computing at the Los Alamos Scientific (now National) Laboratory (LASL) evolved from hand computing (1943), supported by mechanical calculators, through punched- card computation, to electronic computing on the ENIAC (1945). Computing applications ranged from computational support for experimental work to critical- mass calculations and the hydrodynamics of implosions and explosions. They required solution to practical numerical computational problems of singularities in integral-equation kernels, extrapolation techniques, stability in partial-differential-equation integration, and propagation of numerical errors. Because only limited testing of the final products (atomic bombs) of Los Alamos research and development was possible, the results were critically dependent on detailed calculations of the new physical phenomena being exploited. These phenomena involved extremely high densities, pressures, and temperatures, requiring nonlinear mathematics for which analytic techniques and solutions were not available; consequently, the only recourse was a computational

IEEE Computer Society, Oct 01, 1982 Page 1 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 4 Number 4, Pages 348-357

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Early Computing at Los Alamos

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