Person: Eckert, Wallace J.
Wallace J Eckert was an American astronomer whose work was important in the development of computers.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- At that time Ernest Brown was a member of the astronomy department and Brown's work on the Moon was an important ingredient of Eckert's later work.
- Eckert had joined the Faculty at Columbia University in 1926 and later he became professor there.
- Eckert was an early user of IBM punch card equipment to reduce astronomical data and solve numerically planetary orbits.
- In 1937 Columbia University and IBM established the Thomas J Watson Astronomical Computing Bureau as a result of the collaboration with Eckert.
- The work which led to this development was published by Eckert in Punched card methods in scientific computation (1940).
- In 1940 Eckert became director of the US Nautical Almanac Office and produced work vital to navigation during World War II.
- In 1945 Eckert became director of the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory at Columbia University.
- Eckert directed the construction of a number of innovative computers.
- Eckert applied computers, in particular the SSEC and NORC, to compute precise planetary positions and contribute to the theory of the orbit of the Moon.
- In particular he used the SSEC to compute the positions of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, publishing the results in 1951 in Coordinates of the five outer planets.
- The NORC was used by Eckert to work on the problem of the position of the Moon.
- Eckert therefore decided not to recompute new tables but to compute the ephemerides directly from Brown's equations.
- The accuracy of Eckert's calculations of the Moon's orbit was so good that in 1965 he was able to correctly show that there was a concentration of mass near the lunar surface.
Born 19 June 1902, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Died 24 August 1971, Englewood, New Jersey, USA.
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Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Usa
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive