25th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture Series - Prof. Walter GautschiProf. Walter Gautschi, Professor Emeritus, from Purdue University visited the Department and delivered a Distinguished Lecture on “The Spiral of Theodorus, Numerical Analysis, and Special Functions” on 14 March 2014. Prof. Gautschi shared about the Spiral of Theodorus. The lecture focused on the problem of interpolating this discrete, angular spiral by a smooth, if possible analytic, spiral. An interesting solution has been proposed twenty years ago by P.J. Davis, which is based on an infinite product. The computation of this product gives rise to problems of numerical analysis, in particular the summation of slowly convergent series, and the identification of the product to questions regarding special functions. The former are solved by a method of integration, in particular Gaussian integration, the latter by means of Dawson’s integral and the Bose–Einstein distribution. Number-theoretic questions also loom behind this work. The lecture was well received by the students.
Walter Gautschi has obtained his PhD at the University of Basel in 1953 (thesis advisor: Prof. A. Ostrowski). He was a Post Doc at Istituto Nazionale per le Applicazioni del Calcolo, Rome and at Harvard Computation Laboratory; a Research Mathematician at the National Bureau of Standards, Washington, DC and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He was a Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Purdue University in 1963-2000. He has been entitled the Professor Emeritus since 2000. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the Technical University of Munich in 1970-1971; a Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin in 1971-1977, and at various other academic institutions, notably the University of Padua, the Polytechnics of Milan and Turin, ETH Zurich, and the University of Basel. Prof. Gautschi has been lecturer at numerous national and international meetings and invited Lecturer at anniversary meetings for Christoffel (Aachen, 1979), Tricomi (Rome, 1997), Euler (Zurich, 2007), and Lagrange (Turin, 2013). Foreign member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (since 2001) and the Turin Academy of Sciences (since 2001). His selected works with commentaries published 2014 in three volumes by Birkhäuser.