Richard Wesley Hamming

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Richard Wesley Hamming

Death: 1998 (82-83)
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard James Hamming and Mabel Grace Redfield
Husband of Wanda Mae Hamming

Managed by: Private User
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About Richard Wesley Hamming

Richard Wesley Hamming (February 11, 1915 – January 7, 1998) was an American mathematician whose work had many implications for computer science and telecommunications. His contributions include the Hamming code (which makes use of a Hamming matrix), the Hamming window, Hamming numbers, sphere-packing (or Hamming bound) and the Hamming distance.

Born in Chicago, Hamming attended University of Chicago, University of Nebraska and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he wrote his doctoral thesis in mathematics under the supervision of Waldemar Trjitzinsky (1901-1973). In April 1945 he joined the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos Laboratory, where he programmed the IBM calculating machines that computed the solution to equations provided by the project's physicists. He left to join the Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1946. Over the next fifteen years he was involved in nearly all of the Laboratories' most prominent achievements.

After retiring from the Bell Labs in 1976, Hamming took a position at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he worked as an Adjunct Professor and senior lecturer in computer science, and devoted himself to teaching and writing books. He delivered his last lecture in December 1997, just a few weeks before he died from a heart attack on January 7, 1998.

Awards and professional recognition

  • Turing Award, Association for Computing Machinery, 1968.
  • IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award, 1979.
  • Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 1980.
  • Harold Pender Award, University of Pennsylvania, 1981.
  • IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal, 1988.
  • Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, 1994.
  • Basic Research Award, Eduard Rhein Foundation, 1996.
  • The IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal, named after him, is an award given annually by the Institute of Electrical and *Electronics Engineers (IEEE), for "exceptional contributions to information sciences, systems and technology", and he was the first recipient of this medal. The reverse side of the medal depicts a Hamming parity check matrix for a *Hamming error-correcting code.
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