John von Neumann

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Von Neumann, John

(noi`män), 1903–57, American mathematician, b. Hungary, Ph.D. Univ. of Budapest, 1926. He came to the United States in 1930 and was naturalized in 1937. He taught (1930–33) at Princeton and after 1933 was associated with the Institute for Advanced Study. In 1954 he was appointed a member of the Atomic Energy Commission. A founder of the mathematical theory of games (see games, theory ofgames, theory of,
group of mathematical theories first developed by John Von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. A game consists of a set of rules governing a competitive situation in which from two to n
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), he also made fundamental contributions to quantum theory and to the development of the atomic bomb. He was a leader in the design and development of high-speed electronic computers; his development of maniac—an acronym for mathematical analyzer, numerical integrator, and computer—enabled the United States to produce and test (1952) the world's first hydrogen bomb. With Oskar Morgernstern he wrote Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (1944, rev. ed. 1953). Von Neumann's other writings include Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics (1926, tr. 1955), Computer and the Brain (1958), and Theory of Self-reproducing Automata (ed. by A. W. Burks, pub. posthumously, 1966).


See his collected works (Vol. I–III, 1961–62; Vol. IV–VI, 1963); biography by N. Macrae (1992).

Von Neumann, John


Born Dec. 28, 1903, in Budapest; died Feb. 8, 1957, in Washington, D.C. American mathematician. Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (1937).

Von Neumann received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Budapest in 1926. In 1927 he began teaching at the University of Berlin. From 1930 to 1933 he taught at Princeton University and in 1933 was made a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Beginning in 1940, he did consulting work for the army and navy and took part, in particular, in the development of the first atomic bomb. He was made a member of the Atomic Energy Commission in 1954.

Von Neumann’s chief works dealt with functional analysis and applications of functional analysis to problems in classical and quantum mechanics. He also conducted research in mathematical logic and the theory of topological groups. In the last years of his life, he studied chiefly problems in game theory and the theory of automata. He made considerable contributions to the designing of the first computers and developed methods for using such machines.


Collected Works, vols. 1–6. Oxford, 1961–64. Matematicheskie osnovy kvantovoi mekhaniki. Moscow, 1964. In Russian translation:
Teoriia igr i ekonomicheskoe povedenie. Moscow, 1970. (With O. Morgenstern.)
Teoriia samovosproizvodiashchikhsia avtomatov. Moscow, 1971.


Wigner, E. Etiudy o simmetrii. Moscow, 1971. Pages 204–09. (Translated from English.)
Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, 1958, vol. 64, no. 3, part 2. (Issue in memory of Von Neumann.)

Von Neumann, John (b. Johann)

(1903–57) mathematician; born in Budapest, Hungary. Son of a wealthy Jewish banker, he emigrated to America (1933) to join the new Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He contributed to the creation of the atomic and hydrogen bombs and became a member of the Atomic Energy Commission (1955). He is considered one of the last representatives of a group of great mathematicians who were equally at home in pure and applied mathematics and who produced steadily in both directions throughout their careers. Known for an exceptional ability to digest an enormous amount of extremely diverse material with amazing rapidity, he contributed to almost every facet of the mathematics of the 1930s, and was a founder of game theory, and worked in early computer science, theoretical physics, and numerical weather prediction. He is the coauthor of The Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (with Oskar Morgenstern, 1944) and of numerous articles.

John von Neumann

/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.

John von Neumann

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