Questions tagged [computation]

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1answer
110 views

Newton as the first one to establish numerical analysis as a new field of study

I was reading about the history of Newton's Method. Newton used a cubic equation, $x^3 - 2x - 5 = 0$, to show the efficacy of his method around 1670. I was wondering that why Newton would choose this ...
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3answers
134 views

Why were early electronic computers mutually incompatible?

At the beginning of the electronic computing era in the 1950s, computers were mutually incompatible both in terms of hardware and software. It was impossible to use peripherals (e.g. punched card or ...
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3answers
2k views

What was the first electronic computer?

I would like to know what is considered to be the first electronic digital computer. A literature ambiguous on this. I found these claims: ENIAC - a computer constructed by Mr. Eckert and Mr. ...
3
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1answer
56 views

Who is Wanner from Rosenrock-Wanner (ROW) methods?

I've spent some time with a search engine trying to find out about Wanner, a person whose surname is mentioned in the name of Rosenbrock-Wanner (ROW) methods primarily used for iteratively solving ...
4
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1answer
98 views

Using paper of known density to calculate area under a curve [duplicate]

Ive never seen a source for this, but I had a professor a few years back that a low tech way of calculating the area under a curve (definite integral) was to use a piece of paper with known thickness/...
4
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0answers
65 views

Where is the first reference to the “Z combinator”, a call-by-value fix-point combinator?

I'd like to know the earliest reference to the Z-combinator. This could be either where the name was first coined, or even the first discussion of a need for an applicative-order Y combinator. I didn'...
0
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0answers
45 views

Frege alluded to a logic algorithm?

Somewhere (I wish I remember where) I read that Gottlob Frege, although he didn't invent a logic algorithm, alluded to one (the Quine–McCluskey algorithm? something else? converting truth tables to ...
4
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3answers
175 views

What is the most number of digits of a mathematical transcendental constant that have been required for a real computation?

What is the most number of digits of a transcendental mathematical constant (for example, $\pi$ or $\mathrm{e}$) that have been necessary for an actual computation? Note that I am asking about the ...
0
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0answers
40 views

What is the (economic, social) value of STEM archives?

I'm trying to convince my institution to improve their internal Computer Science archives, and want one of my argument angles to be based on empirical value-adds of archiving. History, library science,...
4
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1answer
83 views

What/When was the first radio nav system capable of triangulating your position?

What was the first radio navigation system capable of triangulating your position, and when was it built? How accurate was it and what was its range? This does not have to be GPS or a satellite ...
3
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1answer
151 views

Tools of the trade: were early scientists and mathematicians really “writing with feathers using light from burning animal fat?”

I've used the phrase more than once, but in this answer I wrote: closing thoughts: Realistic orbits are not perfect conics, and so they and their Keplerian elements do not represent realistic orbits. ...
7
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2answers
384 views

Day-to-day tasks of human computers, à la Hidden Figures movie

I was fascinated by the film Hidden Figures, and a related article from New Scientist magazine Gifted and black: The brilliant woman who got the US into space. I'm trying to understand more about ...
6
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1answer
305 views

Why were British WWII computing machines and their projects destroyed after the war ended?

I've seen from a number of sources that both the Colossus and the cryptological bombes operating for England were dismantled after the war ended. The Wikipedia article even says that all of Colossus' ...
10
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3answers
941 views

Did anybody know Pi well enough in 1592 to celebrate Pi day?

Pi to 7 decimal digits is: 3.1415926 Many people are familiar with Pi day. Celebrated on March 14 as per American date format, the holiday brings attention to the fact that the date resembles the ...
4
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1answer
129 views

History of computing/computation in higher education

A Google search for the first academic computer science program a couple of years ago cited a half-dozen programs in France and England that were considered proto-computer science. Current searches ...
9
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1answer
284 views

Have the results from Computational Physics disprove any physics theory?

We are familiar with the instances when experimental results disproved physics theories, such as the Michelson-Morley experiment. What about computational physics results? To date, is there any ...
8
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5answers
1k views

Has a digit ever been used to represent the number “10”?

Ten is special to humans, as there are 10 fingers on two hands, and fingers are still the basic counting medium for people. So, was there any digit representing the number "10" in a positional system ...
33
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5answers
2k views

What is so mysterious about Archimedes' approximation of $\sqrt 3$?

In his famous estimation of $\pi$ by inscribed and circumscribed polygons, Archimedes uses several rational approximations of irrational values; a typical example is that he states, without ...
26
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3answers
4k views

How did Napier come to invent logarithms?

What was Napier's original logic, leading to his invention of logarithms? In other words, how did Napier, using the mathematics that was available at that time, derive them?
19
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1answer
1k views

What sorts of calculations called for the invention of logarithm tables?

It's often stated that Napier invented logarithms in order to simplify the task of engineers and scientists who had to crunch numbers by hand. Now, logarithms obviously do simplify calculations (as I ...