IT biography
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A selection of interesting facts about the great IT specialists


George Boole


George Boole (1815 - 1864) is an English mathematician, professor whose work contributed to the creation of modern symbolic logic. His algebra of logic that is called Boolean algebra or Boolean logic (an algebraic structure, which is complemented distributive grating and a part of mathematics that studies similar structures) is the fundamental for designing of modern digital circuits. Boole's work embodied in the applications that he would never have imagined.

• The wife of George Boole - Mary Everest was a niece of George Everest, who was the Inspector-General of India that completed the work on creating a triangulated system of this country in 1841 and the author of well-known fundamental work "The report about the measurement of the two arcs of the Indian Meridian". As we know in his honor was named the highest mountain peak in the world.
•He was awarded a knighthood in 1861.
• He had five daughters that continued the dynasty of scientists:
Alicia specialized in the study of multidimensional spaces and received an honorary degree at the University of Groningen.
• Lucy became the first woman-professor in England that got a chair in chemistry.
• Mary was married to Charles Hinton who was mathematician, inventor, science fiction writer and the author of the novel "An Episode on Flatland", where were described some beings that living in a flat two-dimensional world. Three grandchildren of Hinton became scientists: William and Joan were the physicists and Gevard was an entomologist.
• Margaret went in a history as the mother of Geoffrey Taylor who was a famous English mathematician and an engineer.
Ethel Lilian was married to the scientist Wilfrid Michael Voynich. Ethel Voynich wrote the well-known novel "The Gadfly", subsequently followed by several more novels, musical compositions, as well as English translation of poems that were written by Taras Shevchenko.

John von Neumann


John von Neumann (1903 - 1957) was a Hungarian-American mathematician of Jewish origin who made the important contributions to the quantum physics, quantum logic, functional analysis, set theory, computer science, economics and other fields of science. He is best known as the forefather of modern computer architectures (that is so-called von Neumann architecture) that is used in the operator theory of quantum mechanics (von Neumann algebra), as well as a participant of the Manhattan Project, the creator of game theory and the concept of cellular automata.

• Neumann had almost perfect memory. He could recite the pages of books that were read many years ago and immediately translate the text into English or German languages, and with some delays he could translate into French or Italian.
• When Neumann tried to explain something at the board, he quickly covered the whole surface of different formulas, and then quickly erased everything, so some barely understood the course of his arguments.
• In 1928 von Neumann wrote an article "On the theory of strategic games". He proved the minimax theorem in it, which served as one of the foundations for the game theory that was formed later. This article came out as a result of game’s study of two poker partners and discussion of the optimal strategy for each player. However, this work did not help much Neumann in the poker game. So in 1944, he lost 10$ to N. Metropolis as soon as he explained the theory in Los Alamos. After he got the win money, Metropolis bought for 5$ a book of Neumann and Morgenstern "Theory of Games and Economic Behavior," stuck on it other 5$, and he made the author to sign the history of this loss on the book.
• Von Neumann and Stanislaw Ulam developed a method of independent statistical tests during the work on the creation of a hydrogen bomb that is now known as the Monte Carlo method. One of the main difficulties to develop this method was the absence of random number generators at the time. Then Neumann suggested to use to generate sequences of random numbers one of the roulette in the casino of Monte Carlo, where roulettes were the best, therefore, there were produced the best sequences of random numbers. The military department agreed to lease one of these roulettes, so Ulam and von Neumann played roulette a great deal at public expense, and their method they called the Monte Carlo method in the memory of that.
• It was written about the Neumann that he could go to bed with an unsolved problem and wake up with an answer at three o'clock in the morning, and then he walked to the phone and called his coworkers. Therefore, one of the Neumann’s requirements for the employees was readiness to be awakened in the night.
• Neiman could be carried away by the solution of a problem while driving a car that he lost the orientation in space and needed to get some specifications.
• One day while he was working on the atomic project at Los Alamos, he needed to make some very complicated calculations, and then Enrico Fermi, Richard Feynman and John von Neumann started their work. Fermi took his favorite slide rule, pencil and a bunch of sheets of paper. Feynman put round himself different directories including an electric calculator (the fastest one that existed at the time) and plunged into the calculations. Neumann did a mental arithmetic. They got together the results simultaneously that practically coincided.

Alan Mathison Turing


Alan Mathison Turing (1912 - 1954) was English mathematician, logician, cryptographer who had a significant influence on the development of computer science. He is considered as the founder of computer science that put the mathematical foundations in an article in 1936 “On Computable Numbers”. In 1936, he proposed an abstract computational the "Turing machine", which allowed formalizing the notion of the algorithm, and still it is used in a variety of theoretical and practical researches.

• Turing was a homosexual.
• He made an enormous contribution to the British project on cracking Nazi cipher machine «Enigma» during the Second World War.
• In 1950, Alan Turing proposed the famous game that is called "Game of the imitation." Now, it is more commonly known as the "Turing Test".
• Once the house of Alan Turing had been robbed, and the scientist called the police. Unfortunately, the police found evidence of homosexuality of the owner in the house and instead of trying to find the thieves, they arrested Turing, therefore, he had lost the right to work with classified documents and was suspended from his job. The court gave Turing the opportunity to choose between imprisonment and the injection of sex hormones. Turing chose the second option. The effect was devastating: he grew breasts. In 1954, Turing could not stand the mental anguish and killed himself - he ate an apple stuffed with cyanide.
• Logotype of Apple is a tribute of respect to Turing.

Claude Elwood Shannon


Claude Elwood Shannon (1916 - 2001) is an American engineer and mathematician. His works are a synthesis of mathematical ideas with a specific analysis of extremely complex problems and their technical implementation. He is the founder of information theory, which found its use in the modern high-tech communication systems. Shannon made a huge contribution to the theory of probability diagrams, automata theory and the theory of control systems in the field of science that included in the concept of cybernetics.

• Claude Shannon and Edward Thorp, the godfather of card counting technique in the blackjack were good friends and partners: Many theories had been proved by Shannon Thorpe and vice versa.
• Shannon determined the amount of information over the entropy on the advice of John von Neumann. As a result, he proved his noisy channel coding theorem.
• One of the first Shannon suggested that the machines can play games and do self-learning. In 1950, he made a mechanical mouse (named Theseus) that was remotely controlled by electronic circuit, which was learning to find a way out of the maze.
• Shannon took a great interest in juggling. When he got retired, he built several juggling machines and even created the general theory of juggling, which did not help him to beat a personal record - juggling four balls.
• Shannon loved to ride a unicycle through the corridors of Bell Labs while juggling.
• The most unusual devices that were created by Shannon: seven chess machine, acrobatic pole with a spring and a gasoline engine, folding knife with a hundred blades, double unicycle, juggling mannequin and a computer that calculated the Roman numeral system.

Donald Ervin Knuth


Donald Ervin Knuth (1938) is an American scientist, professor and ideologue of the programming, the author who wrote 19 monographs (including several classic books on programming), more than 160 articles and several well-known software technologies. He is the author world famous series of books that was dedicated to the basic algorithms and methods of computational mathematics, as well as the creator of desktop publishing systems, such as TEX and METAFONT that were intended for typing and layout of books on the technical topics (in the first place - Physics and Mathematics).

• Knuth admits that he has an inferiority complex. He said, it explains the fact that he always worked hard. When he was in Milwaukee Lutheran High School, he was worried that low scores in math may prevent him for college, but it was an obscure concern, as he graduated from the high school with the highest ratio of all time - 97.5%. Because of that fear Knut studied very hard in free time the differential and integral calculus and analytical geometry in Case Institute of Technology.
• When he worked at first with a computer in the institute, he was eager for the new IBM machine 650, so he missed a date with his future wife, as he was too carried away by debugging. "Art of Computer Programming" Knut dedicated to that computer.
• Knut was the manager of the basketball team. He made a formula that calculates the contribution of each player to the game regardless of the number of points that he brought to the team.
• Donald likes music very much. He became a designer and built a pipe organ in the Baroque style, which consists of 1,000 pipes for the Lutheran Church in Menlo Park, California and built a smaller version for his home.
• Ervin Knuth no longer pays $2.56 for each error that is found in his book.
• Donald Knuth speaks Russian.

Bill Gates


Bill Gates (William Henry Gates III, 1955) is a chairman of board and the chief software architect of Microsoft Corporation, which is the world's leading provider of software for the personal computers. The main contribution of Bill Gates that he foresaw in the decades ahead the possibility of windfall profits from the fact that it is impossible to touch by hands, which is the product of human intelligence – the computer programs.

• Gates loves the cars, boats and to play poker.
• Gates is venturesome and compulsive in the work, a passion for competition attracts him more money.
• He never ate at home, because he did not want to waste time on cooking.
• Bill Gates received his first big fee when he was 15 years old for a program to control the traffic lights. The fee amounted to 20 thousand dollars. When he was 38 years old he has sold a million copies of its Windows in a month.
• Gates was expelled from Harvard University for the academic failure. Many years later (when he was worth of several billion dollars) the Administration has recognized him as a Harvard graduate and gave him a diploma.
• As a child, Bill loved to ride on the swings. Now, if he has to think, he starts riding on the swing.
• When Bill Gates was 13 years old he and his friends broke into the school computer and gained access to the secret information. Instead of punishment, a computer center of Seattle hired Gates to work to test their programs.
• Gates’ Parents were frightened by the eagerness to computers and even forbade him to approach that "infernal machine." Bill read the biography of great people the following year. He was interested in thinking of historical figures.
• At the start of the Worldwide Web, Gates said: "The Internet is hopeless." Within a few years he put on this front line the best his programmers.
• Gates wrote his first program back in school, which helped to effective planning of lessons. He used the program to enroll in a class with the cute girls.
• Bill Gates became a billionaire at the age of 31. If he were a country, then he would occupy the thirty-seventh place in the list of the richest countries in the world.
• It was estimated that Bill earns 250$ per a second, which is 21.6$ million per a day, or 7.8 $ billion per a year. If he would distribute to every person on earth for fifteen dollars, then he still will have 5$ million. If he would lose one dollar every time when Windows freezes, then his fortune would be equal to zero in three years.
• He spent on charity approximately thirty billion dollars of its funds.
• He is married and he has three children. He forbids his children to play the Xbox 360.

Timothy John Berners-Lee


Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee (1955) is a British scientist and inventor of the URI, URL, HTTP, HTML and the Worldwide Web (cooperatively with Robert Camilla), as well he is the present head of the Worldwide Web Consortium. He is the author of the concept of the semantic web and a number of other developments in the information technology.

• Tim had a sad incident at the Royal College of Oxford University: he was denied an access to the computer laboratory of nuclear physics, because he played some games that have no relation to the science at an inopportune time. Something similar happened to another careless student. His name was Bill Gates.
• Once Tim and his friend were caught during the hacker attack for that this time they were denied the right to use all university computers. Tim did not put up with a separation from the device, which he liked. This passion generated a strong creative impulse, so he designed his own personal computer from an old TV, chip generator and microprocessor that he bought for two living allowances and a calculator, which was found in garbage.
• Tim talks very fast and to catch up with his idea is quite impossible. When he lived in Geneva, his Swiss colleagues began to communicate with him only in French in order to slow down slightly the conversation.
• Once he had been giving a lecture before a large audience and suddenly he got the computer problems. Tim handled them well and afterthought said, "Should I stand here before you, if everything would work properly?"
• Tim and his wife Nancy Carlson cannot stand when someone noses into their family affairs. They urge to contact a lawyer for more information about their family life.
• Once the Americans have simplified the name of Tim Kailliau to Kio from different sources appear statements that the Web was created by Chinese Li or Japanese Kio.
• In a sense, he opposed to the commercialization of the Worldwide Web. He is interested in the Web itself and not in its use. Berners-Lee admitted in his interview that "he almost physically is suffering from the flooding garbage in the Web".
Papay 12 december 2011, 14:49
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