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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
Richard Hamming
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person Professor Richard Wesley Hamming (1915-02-11 -
1998-01-07). An American mathematician known for his work in
information theory (notably error detection andcorrection), having invented the concepts of Hamming code,
Richard Hamming received his B.S. from the University of
Chicago in 1937, his M.A. from the University of Nebraska in
1939, and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1942. In 1945 Hamming joined
the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos.
In 1946, after World War II, Hamming joined the BellTelephone Laboratories where he worked with both Shannon
and John Tukey. He worked there until 1976 when he accepted
a chair of computer science at the Naval Postgraduate School
at Monterey, California.
Hamming's fundamental paper on error-detecting and
error-correcting codes ("Hamming codes") appeared in 1950.
His work on the IBM 650 leading to the development in 1956
of the L2 programming language. This never displaced the
workhorse language L1 devised by Michael V Wolontis. By
1958 the 650 had been elbowed aside by the 704.
Although best known for error-correcting codes, Hamming was
primarily a numerical analyst, working on integrating
used for smoothing data before Fourier analysis. He wrote
textbooks, propounded aphorisms ("the purpose of computing is
insight, not numbers"), and was a founder of the ACM and a
proponent of open-shop computing ("better to solve the right
problem the wrong way than the wrong problem the right way.").
In 1968 he was made a fellow of the Institute of Electricaland Electronics Engineers and awarded the Turing Prize from
Electrical and Electronics Engineers awarded Hamming the
Emanuel R Piore Award in 1979 and a medal in 1988.