By Nicholas Metropolis
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Extra info for A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century
A. 27 mation to David Young. Actually, his breakthrough in developing the successive over-relaxation (SOR) method, which lowered by an order of magnitude the cost of solving self-adjoint linear elliptic problems, was inspired by a numerical observation he made after computing on a desk computer all the eigenvalues of a 20 x 20 matrix for two processes; he observed that the second set of eigenvalues he got were the squares of the first set. It was a remarkable numerical coincidence! Then he started trying to figure out what the reason was, and this led to his theory of the SOR method for solving the Laplace equation.
H. C. Whitehead, the famous topologist. He had a low opinion of the theological speculations of his uncle, the famous philosopher A. N. Whitehead. Also, he once remarked that "Bertrand Russell would have been a better philosopher if he had been a better mathematician," and that Russell had used up too much of his mathematical energy on "Principia Mathematica" (written jointly with A. N. Whitehead). In spite of these caustic remarks, Henry Whitehead was genial and enthusiastic. Another member of the Newmanry was Michael Crum, a son of a Deacon of Canterbury.
The output of HEATH ROBINSON was a primitive printer. As you may guess from its name, this machine had been put together with emphasis on speed of completion more than on reliability. In fact, so many things could go wrong, with the machine and tape preparation, that the success rate was extremely low and discouraging for some weeks, and the future of the Newmanry was perhaps in the balance. ) By introducing more checks into the entire system and also by other research carried out by Michie and myself, the success rate was improved enough to show the reasonableness of Newman's faith in a machine attack on the problem in hand.
A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century by Nicholas Metropolis