John von Neumann

<person> /jon von noy'mahn/ Born 1903-12-28, died 1957-02-08.

A Hungarian-born mathematician who did pioneering work in quantum physics, game theory, and computer science.

He contributed to the USA's Manhattan Project that built the first atomic bomb.

von Neumann was invited to Princeton University in 1930, and was a mathematics professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies from its formation in 1933 until his death.

From 1936 to 1938 Alan Turing was a visitor at the Institute and completed a Ph.D. dissertation under von Neumann's supervision.

This visit occurred shortly after Turing's publication of his 1934 paper "On Computable Numbers with an Application to the Entscheidungs-problem" which involved the concepts of logical design and the universal machine.

von Neumann must have known of Turing's ideas but it is not clear whether he applied them to the design of the IAS Machine ten years later.

While serving on the BRL Scientific Advisory Committee, von Neumann joined the developers of ENIAC and made some critical contributions.

In 1947, while working on the design for the successor machine, EDVAC, von Neumann realized that ENIAC's lack of a centralized control unit could be overcome to obtain a rudimentary stored program computer.

He also proposed the fetch-execute cycle.

His ideas led to what is now often called the von Neumann architecture.




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