Forman Acton 1 Reply Forman Acton, professor emeritus of computer science, passed away on Feb. 18, 2014
I took two or three course from Prof Acton in the 60s. He was probably the best instructor I had in the engineering school. (There was also Professor Challifour in the Math Dept, but that’s another story.) From Acton I developed an appreciation for the beauty not just of analytic solutions — which everyone else did then. But also for the elegance of numerical analysis — that dirty business of actually getting answers. The example and tricks he subsequently published in “Numerical Methods that Work” were well known to us.
For my senior thesis, he gave me a key to the brand new IBM 360 Model 40 just delieverd over at Forrestal Research Center. By the time I was finishing up, they got a FORTRAN compiler, which we loaded up off a tape drive. Before that it was “hammers and tongs” (an Acton expression) with Assembler, or getting down the to the metal.
After graduation I spent four years in the Marine Corps along with a Viet Nam tour. I finished my education with a PhD in hydrodynamics at MIT. And every time I got in a stuck place I always wondered, how would Professor Acton figure this out.