Person: Ulam, Stanislaw Marcin
Stan Ulam solved the problem of how to initiate fusion in the hydrogen bomb. He also devised the 'Monte-Carlo method' widely used in solving mathematical problems using statistical sampling.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- At the age of ten, Ulam entered the gymnasium in Lwów and, about this time, he became interested first in astronomy and then in physics.
- However this required an understanding of mathematics and so, at age 14, he began to study mathematics from books, going well beyond the school level mathematics he was learning.
- Now with interests in astronomy, physics and mathematics, Ulam entered the Polytechnic Institute in Lwów.
- Ulam obtained his Ph.D. from the Polytechnic Institute in Lwów in 1933 where he studied under Banach.
- Ulam, in 1930, strengthened Banach's result by proving it without using the Generalised Continuum Hypothesis.
- In 1935 Ulam received an invitation from von Neumann to visit the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton for a few months.
- In 1940 Ulam was appointed as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin.
- In 1943 Ulam became an American citizen.
- This two-stage radiation implosion design, which became known as the Teller-Ulam configuration, led to the creation of modern thermonuclear weapons.
- Ulam, with J C Everett, also proposed the 'Orion' plan for nuclear propulsion of space vehicles.
- A crippling technical weakness coupled with an extraordinarily creative imagination is the drama of Stan Ulam.
- While Ulam was at Los Alamos, he developed the 'Monte-Carlo method' which searched for solutions to mathematical problems using a statistical sampling method with random numbers.
- Ulam's writing include A collection of mathematical problems (1960), Sets numbers and universes (1974) and Adventures of a Mathematician (1976).
- Thus Ulam has always had a very hard time bringing himself to write anything for publication, either in long hand or with a typewriter.
Born 13 April 1909, Lemberg, Austrian Empire (now Lviv, Ukraine). Died 13 May 1984, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 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