Jon Von Neumann a True Pioneer

“A large part of mathematics which becomes useful developed with absolutely no desire to be useful, and in a situation where nobody could possibly know in what area it would become useful; and there were no general indications that it ever would be so.” ~Jon Von Neumann

Jon Von Neumann was born into a Hungarian family on December 28, 1903. His family was consisted of wealthy jewish parents and was considered the eldest of his three brothers. At an early age Jon was considered to be a child prodigy being able to divide two 8 digit numbers (without paper and pencil) at age six by the time he was age eight he was doing differential and integral calculus. Jon went to  Fasori Evangelikus Gimnázium in Budapest for his high school education in  1911. By the age of fifteen Neumann was studying advanced calculus under one of the greatest mathematicians of all time  Gábor Szegő. Szegő was so impressed with Neumann’s computational ability that he was in tears after their first study session. Szegő continued to tutor Neumann and at the age of nineteen Neumann published two mathematical papers. Neumann graduated with a degree in mathematics with minors in both experimental physics and chemistry. After obtaining his degree he took a teaching job at the University of Berlin during the his first few years there he had posted twelve more papers in mathematics. By the end of his career he had published thirty-two major math papers averaging at least one paper per month. In 1930 Neumann was invited to go tour Princeton University and be a professor in mathematics there. It was during this latter year of Von Neumann’s life that he married twice and conceived one child his daughter Marina.

Most of Von Neumann’s achievements have been major contributions to mathematics either establishing new ideas to the discipline or building and exploring the foundations for some older theories. Some of these contributions include game theory, quantum logic,  lattice theory, operation theory, and many more. Neumann had also learned to use his work in explosions leading him into being part of the Manhattan Project which led to the first nuclear bomb.

What did Von Neumann do for computer science though?  Seeing as he is considered a founding member of the discipline Von Neumann had starting using computers with his work on the nuclear bomb. He and his colleagues used computers to simulate the numbers of what possible effects on impact and after effects could happen if the bomb was to be used.  Von Neumann had also wrote a paper titled First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC. The paper  described computer architecture which also led to his work with the ENIAC. Von Neumann’s work as led him to be credited as a founder for modern computer architecture.

If it wasn’t for Von Neumann’s ingenious mind and brilliant thinking we might have not reached this point in modern computing technology.



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