Death of SIAM Member John Todd, 96

July 6, 2007

Esteemed colleague and mathematician John Todd died Thursday, June 21 at his home in Pasadena, California at the age of 96.

Todd was a pioneer in numerical analysis where his contributions greatly impacted analysis, linear algebra and computation. Through his work, he helped shape the foundation of today's computer science field. An emeritus professor at Caltech, he taught and developed the first undergraduate numerical algebra and numerical analysis classes, fields that continue to play an important role in scientific computing.

Todd served in the British Admiralty during World War II where he developed methods of degaussing, or demagnetizing ships to prevent their demolition by enemy torpedoes. Near the end of the war, he also prevented Moroccan troops from destroying the Mathematical Research Institute at Oberwolfach in Germany, where a group of mathematicians were doing work for the Germans and had been protected by the University of Freiburg. Todd later recalled that saving the institute, its work, and the mathematicians, was "probably the best thing I ever did for mathematics."

It is our distinct honor to mention Todd's commitment to SIAM. Todd joined the society in 1955, became a retired member in 1985, and in total was a member of SIAM for 52 years.

For more information on Todd's work and life please read an interview with him from The History of Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing, a project of SIAM, at http://history.siam.org/todd.htm, or his featured obituary from the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-me-todd27jun27,1,4205816.story?track=rss.


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