Person: Kemeny, John
John Kemeny was a Hungarian-born American mathematician and computer scientist best known as the co-inventor of the BASIC computer language.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- John attended primary school in Budapest.
- Kemeny entered Princeton in 1945, after becoming an American citizen, where he studied mathematics and philosophy.
- Returning to Princeton in 1946, Kemeny worked as a research and teaching assistant and an instructor in mathematics even though he was still an undergraduate.
- Kemeny was awarded his doctorate in 1949 for a dissertation entitled Type-Theory vs.
- Kemeny spent two years on a postdoctoral fellowship granted by the Office for Naval research.
- So Kemeny was appointed to the Mathematics Department at Dartmouth in 1953 and, two years later, he became chairman of the Department.
- Kemeny will be remembered by most people as the co-inventor of the BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) computer language.
- It was in 1963 that Kemeny with Thomas Kurtz decided that they wanted to give students easy access to computing.
- Kemeny and Kurtz designed the first "time sharing" system so that many students could a single computer at the same time.
- In the following year the General Electric Company established the first commercial time sharing system based on what Kemeny and Kurtz had set up at Dartmouth.
- A teaching innovation which Kemeny introduced was in developing a Finite Mathematics course including topics that are no surprise to us today: logic, probability and matrix algebra.
- Along with co-authors Laurie Snell and Oskar L Thompson from Dartmouth, Kemeny wrote a number of famous texts on finite mathematics.
- Kemeny also wrote A philosopher looks at science (1959) and with Snell and Anthony Knapp from Cornell he wrote Denumerable Markov chains (1966).
- Before he retired, John recognised only two flowers, the tulip and the rose, and two pieces of music, the 1812 Overture and Poor Little Buttercup.
- Many awards and honours were bestowed on Kemeny such as election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1967).
Born 31 May 1926, Budapest, Hungary. Died 26 December 1992, Etna, New Hampshire, USA.
View full biography at MacTutor
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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