- Cornelius Lanczos
Cornelius Lanczos Born February 2, 1893
Died June 25, 1974(aged 81)
Nationality Hungarian Jewish Fields Mathematics
Alma mater University of Szeged Doctoral advisor Rudolf Ortvay Other academic advisors Loránd Eötvös, Leopold Fejér, Franz Himstedt, Erwin Madelung
Cornelius (Cornel) Lanczos (Hungarian: Lánczos Kornél, Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈlaːntsoʃ]) (until 1906) Löwy (Lőwy) Kornél was a Hungarian-Jewish mathematician and physicist, who was born on February 2, 1893, and died on June 25, 1974.
He was born in Székesfehérvár to Karl Löwy (Lőwy Károly) and Adél Hahn.
Lanczos' Ph.D. thesis (1921) was on relativity theory. In 1924 he discovered an exact solution of the Einstein field equation which represents a cylindrically symmetric rigidly rotating configuration of dust particles. This was later rediscovered by Willem Jacob van Stockum and is known today as the van Stockum dust. It is one of the simplest known exact solutions in general relativity and regarded as an important example, in part because it exhibits closed timelike curves. Lanczos served as assistant to Albert Einstein during the period of 1928–29.
He did pioneering work along with G.C. Danielson on what is now called the fast Fourier transform (FFT, 1940), but the significance of his discovery was not appreciated at the time and today the FFT is credited to Cooley and Tukey (1965). (As a matter of fact, similar claims can be made for several other mathematicians, including Carl Friedrich Gauss.)
Working in Washington DC at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards after 1949 Lanczos developed a number of techniques for mathematical calculations using digital computers, including:
- the Lanczos algorithm for finding eigenvalues of large symmetric matrices.
- the Lanczos approximation for the gamma function.
- the conjugate gradient method for solving systems of linear equations
Lanczos resampling is based on a windowed sinc function as a practical upsampling filter approximating the ideal sinc function. Lanczos resampling is widely used in video up-sampling for digital zoom applications.
Lanczos was an outstanding physics teacher. Books such as The Variational Principles of Mechanics (1949) show his explanatory ability and enthusiasm for the subject.
During the McCarthy era Lanczos came under suspicion for possible Communist links. In 1952 he chose to leave the U.S. and move to the School of Theoretical Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in Ireland where he succeeded Schrödinger. When at D.I.A.S. he wrote the classic book, "Applied Analysis" (1956).
According to a short speech delivered Oct 1, 2010 during Lanczos' induction to the NIST Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Staff, his daughter-in-law described his return to Hungary in 1939 from his then-position at Purdue University, when he attempted to convince his family to return to the US with him due to the anti-Jewish Nazi threat. His wife was too ill to travel, and died several weeks later from tuberculosis. He was only able to extricate his 5 year old son and return to the US just before the war began. When the Nazis purged Hungary of Jews in 1944, only his aunt and a nephew survived. That son married, moved to Seattle and raised two sons. Upon hearing of the birth of his first grandson by letter while in Ireland, he replied in his own letter that the boy "was proof that Hitler did not win."
- Lanczos, Cornelius; and William R. Davis (ed.) (1998). Collected published papers with commentaries. Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina State University. ISBN 0-929493-01-X.
- Lanczos, Cornelius (1970). The Variational Principles of Mechanics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-1743-6.
- Lanczos, Cornelius (1962). "The splitting of the Riemann tensor". Rev. Modern Phys. 34 (3): 379. Bibcode 1962RvMP...34..379L. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.34.379.
- Lanczos, Cornelius (1924). "Über eine stationäre Kosmologie im Sinne der Einsteinischen Gravitationstheorie". ZeitschrARRAY. Phys. 21: 73. Bibcode 1924ZPhy...21...73L. doi:10.1007/BF01328251.
- Brendan Scaife (1974). Studies in Numerical Analysis: Papers in Honour of Cornelius Lanczos. Dublin; London ; New York: Academic Press. ISBN 0126211507.
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Cornelius Lanczos", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews, http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Lanczos.html .
- Cornelius Lanczos, Collected published papers with commentaries, published by North Carolina State University
- Photo gallery of Lanczos by Nicholas Higham
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