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Discussion: John von Neumann A Case Study of Scientific Creativity

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129608D
Original Publication Date: 1989-Jun-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 5 page(s) / 28K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

PETER HORVATH: AUTHOR [+6]

Abstract

Edward Teller assesses von Neumann's influence on the development of mathematics, especially of his work on representation theory of noncompact groups. He stresses von Neumann's early realization of the significance of computers. Wigner's recollections of John von Neumann's early years emphasize the influence of von Neumann's early education on the development of his scientific creativity. Categories and Subject Descriptor: K.2 [Computing Milieux]: History of Computing -- people. Nagy: The name of John von Neumann has been associated with the development of the computer, and, in some respects, symbolizes the modern electronic computer age. As this symposium will indicate, von Neumann contributed to the development of what has been described as the ";von Neumann"; and the ";non von Neumann"; machines.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1989 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Discussion: John von Neumann A Case Study of Scientific Creativity

PARTICIPANTS: WILLIAM ASPRAYPETER HORVATH, DENES NAGY, EDWARD TELLER, NICHOLAS VONNEUMAN, AND EUGENE P. WIGNER

Edward Teller assesses von Neumann's influence on the development of mathematics, especially of his work on representation theory of noncompact groups. He stresses von Neumann's early realization of the significance of computers. Wigner's recollections of John von Neumann's early years emphasize the influence of von Neumann's early education on the development of his scientific creativity.

Categories and Subject Descriptor: K.2 [Computing Milieux]: History of Computing -- people.

Nagy: The name of John von Neumann has been associated with the development of the computer, and, in some respects, symbolizes the modern electronic computer age. As this symposium will indicate, von Neumann contributed to the development of what has been described as the "von Neumann" and the "non von Neumann" machines.

Numerous legends have survived concerning von Neumann's formidable scientific creativity and talents, some of which are described in Paul Halmos' essay in American Mathematical Monthly, 1973. These legends neither tell us about von Neumann's scientific talent, nor do they offer much insight into his creativity. Therefore, I would like to ask this distinguished panel of von Neumann's colleagues to comment on the components of scientific creativity based on their knowledge of von Neumann and on their own experience and research.

Let us begin in chronological order with Eugene P. Wigner, the boyhood friend of von Neumann, who attended the same high school in Budapest.

Wigner: It is really a pleasure to remember my associations with John von Neumann. It is unpleasant to realize that he is no longer with us. There have been many articles written about him, and I will try not to repeat them. In fact, that will not be difficult because there are a great many things that might be said about von Neumann.

I first met von Neumann when he was 13 and I was 14 at the Lutheran Gymnasium in Budapest, which was an excellent school. In particular, we had a great mathematics teacher, whose name was Ratz, who was very interested in teaching. I should mention that he was made Director of the Gymnasium once, but after 2 years he resigned, because he said he preferred to teach. Well, anyway, Ratz gave private classes to von Neumann because he realized even at that time, how deeply von Neumann was interested in mathematics and how much he would be able to contribute to it. Ratz also gave me books and articles to read. He was really a wonderful teacher. I think von Neumann was very much indebted to him.

Von Neumann had many friends when he was a young man and that continued, of course, but already as a high school stud...