Videnskabshistorisk Selskab

Tom Archibald,
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Canada:

World War I and Mathematics in the United States

Following much debate, the United States entered WWI only in March of 1917. The relatively brief episode of the war has not been seen by historians as decisive for mathematical practice or for mathematicians in that country. In this paper, we reassess the involvement of mathematicians in the US war effort. This involvement included research efforts, notably in ballistics and related numerical analysis. It also saw very broadly-based activities to assist in providing basic mathematical knowledge to new recruits, at a  juncture when a national debate on the relation between research and teaching   was taking place. The war appears to have seen the first serious   involvement of mathematics and mathematicians with the federal government, through a range of institutional structures including the National Bureau of Standards, the National Research Council, and the various military departments. It also sees mathematicians interfacing with industrial concerns. A corps of  individual mathematicians retained these involvements following the war, and some of these were later key players in the much better-known WWII activities. The paper describes joint research with Della Fenster and Deborah Kent.

tirsdag, den 3. november 2009, kl. 17.00

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