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Dec 28, 2017

Father of digital computer János Neumann was born 114 years ago

Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, and computer scientist. His groundbreaking work in computer science, the so-called ‘Neumann Principles’ laid down the foundation for building the EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Calculator), the ancestor of all modern computers

János Neumann, inventor of the ancestor of digital computers was born on 28 December, 1903, 114 years ago.

Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, and computer scientist. As an adult, already living in America, he added von to his surname; a title had granted to his father in 1903.

He made contributions to a number of fields, including, mathematics (e.g. foundations of mathematics, set theory, and geometry), physics (quantum mechanics, hydrodynamics… etc.), economics (game theory), computing (e.g. Von Neumann architecture, linear programming, self-replicating machines), and statistics.

He was a child prodigy. As a 6 year-old, he was able to divide two 8-digit numbers in his head and to joke with his father in Ancient Greek. He is still called "the last representative of the great mathematicians" like Euler, Gauss, Poincaré or Hilbert.

He was one of "the Martians", a group of notable Jewish-Hungarian scientists (mostly, but not exclusively, physicists and mathematicians, including, among others Edward Teller and Eugene Wigner) who immigrated to the US in the early half of the 20th century.

His groundbreaking work in computer science, the so-called ‘Neumann Principles’ laid down the foundation for building the EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Calculator), the ancestor of all modern computers in the Princeton Institute between 1944-1952.

As an expert in the nonlinear physics of hydrodynamics and shock waves, he contributed to the creation of the atomic bomb.

Problem-solving was Von Neumann’s major hobby. His legacy is the ultimate endeavor to use the power of mathematics in all fields of life.

With his pivotal work on quantum theory, the atomic bomb, and the computer, von Neumann likely exerted a greater influence on the modern world than any other mathematician of the 20th century.