John Kemeny

Born 1926 in Hungary, died 1992.

Co-Inventor with ThomasKurtz of BasicLanguage and the DartmouthTimeSharingSystem?

Einstein's mathematical assistant. Leader and innovator in mathematics education. President of Dartmouth College.

"People would ask -- did you know enough physics to help Einstein? My standard line was: Einstein did not need help in physics. But contrary to popular belief, Einstein did need help in mathematics. By which I do not mean that he wasn't good at mathematics. He was very good at it, but he was not an up-to-date research level mathematician. His assistants were mathematicians for two reasons. First of all, in just ordinary calculations, anybody makes mistakes. There were many long calculations, deriving one formula from another to solve a differential equation. They go on forever. Any number of times we got the wrong answer. Sometimes one of us got the wrong answer, sometimes the other. The calculations were long enough that if you got the same answer at the end, you were confident. So he needed an assistant for that, and, frankly, I was more up-to-date in mathematics than he was."

EditText of this page (last edited June 5, 2013) or FindPage with title or text search