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Gene Golub, Pioneering Mathematical Computer Scientist, Has Died at 75

December 20, 2007

Gene H. Golub, a computer scientist who developed early techniques for using computers to solve scientific and engineering problems, died of leukemia on November 16, in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 75.

Born in Chicago, Golub was trained as a mathematician. An innovator in the field of numerical analysis, he created algorithms that made it possible to apply the first widely available generation of commercial computers to scientific and engineering problems that ranged from predicting the weather to prospecting for oil.

Golub's contributions were particularly significant in the area of matrix computation, said Cleve Moler, chief scientist of The MathWorks, a software firm that makes tools for mathematical calculations. "Matrix computation is the foundation of modern scientific computing," Moler told the New York Times.

In 1964, Golub designed a widely used linear algebra algorithm known as singular value decomposition (SVD), which has applications in signal processing, statistics, search engines, and data analysis. Because of its versatility, SVD has been called the "Swiss Army knife" of numerical analysis.

Golub, who was a member of SIAM and a revered figure in the tightly knit community of mathematical computer scientists, was one of the founders Stanford University's computer science department, in 1965. He taught at the university for 45 years.

Golub was the editor of Studies in Numerical Analysis, a volume in the MAA Studies in Mathematics series, published in 1984.

Source: New York Times, Dec. 10, 2007.

Start Date: 
Thursday, December 20, 2007