Information about Preston C. Hammer, assembled by Jonathan Rees in
Photograph (taken in 1970)
Why did I do this? I met Hammer around 1976 and was impressed by his
outspoken, eccentric manner. In 2012, when cleaning out a file
cabinet, I came across some reprints he gave me, and realized I had a
few things in common with him. I got to wondering what his story was
and spent a day trawling the web for information about him.
I contacted two family members to see if they had any photos or
additional information to share, but received no reply.
I was thinking of creating a Wikipedia page, but this is painful given
Wikipedia's strict policy on third-party sources.
October 12, 1913: Born Rockford, Michigan
degree (magna cum laude) from the Kalamazoo College
1935: masters degree from the University of Michigan
1938: OSU dissertation Projective Geometries Over A Pseudo-Field.
1939: Ph.D. The Ohio State University.
(math genealogy project) [conflicts with Parter and OSC,
who say PhD 1938]
Instructor in Mathematics, University of Michigan
1940-47 [or 48]: Oregon State College.
"PRESTON CLARENCE HAMMER, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics.
A.B. (1934), Kalamazoo College; A.B.[sic] (1935), Michigan; Ph.D. (1938), Ohio State."
1947-48: "At Oregon State since 1940. On leave of absence."
as "Staff Member" at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.
IBM Scientific Computation Forum.
1949: was at Los Alamos
IBM Computation Seminar 1949 - warning, big, slow download)
1951: was at Los Alamos
(Note: The first stored-program computer at Los Alamos was the MANIAC,
which didn't come on line until March 1952. I've found no evidence
that Hammer programmed it. His computation experience from 1947 to
1951 seems to have been with the
IBM CPC and its predecessor(s); see
Akera's book. I can't tell whether Hammer was associated with Los Alamos
after 1951. Parter says "the development of computation at Los Alamos
was placed in another group during the summer of 1951" and that Wisconsin
"lured" Hammer away from Los Alamos.)
1952-62 U of Wisconsin
1952: U of Wisconsin: "Preston C. Hammer appointed associate professor of mathematics
for the academic year 1952-53; salary $7,500 for the academic year"
(U of Wisconsin)
1952-1964: University of Wisconsin (LinkedIn profile)
[some confusion over departure year; Parter says 1965.]
(Note: See Wikipedia article on the WISC computer. Designed by Gene Amdahl 1951,
operational in 1954, "the first digital computer in the state".)
1955: Director, Numerical Analysis Laboratory, U Wisconsin
"1957: Consultant to Sandia Corp., Los Alamos
Sci. Laboratory; Reviewer for Math. Reviews."
Honors, positions and publications of members,
(Wisconsin Academy review, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1957)
Parter says: "He went to the administration and
created the department of numerical analysis in September 1961."
1962: Left U Wisc math dept? (see Wisconsin Math web site)
1962-63: on leave [in San Diego] for the academic year
(see also here)
1963-72 or -74 ?? Penn State
- 1963: U Wisc Dept of Numerical Analysis started
(disagrees with Parter)
- 1964: U Wisc Computer Science department formed (formerly Numerical Analysis)
June 1965: left Wisconsin (Parter)
1965 at Penn State (see
"Computer science classes were first offered at Penn State in 1964; two years later in 1966, the Computer Science Department was created under Preston C. Hammer."
1967 at Penn State (see
'The weekly noon happening today in
the Memorial Lounge of
Chapel, The Creative Edge, presents,
Department of Computer Science's own
Preston C. Hammer
in discussion of "Information and Communication."'
1969 at Penn State (see
1972 Chairman of CS department? (google search)
1972-73 on sabbatical from Penn State
1973-74: don't know.
Grand Valley State Colleges: "Preston Hammer (Ph.D. 1939 Ohio State University) 1974 - 1978 Highest Rank: Professor, 1974"
1978: Retired (presumably) at age 65.
died April 1986
died 14 April 1986
(according to here)
During his long academic career, lasting 49 years, he has
been with the
University of Michigan,
Oregon State College,
University of Wisconsin,
Pennsylvania State University, and
[Grand Valley State Colleges].
He has also worked for
extended periods for the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation and the
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. ...
obit, by Parter)
Oral history - Ted Taylor 1950-53 - fission bomb? - CPC
"The head of the computer group was Preston Hammer."
Oral history - Roger B. Lazarus - 1950s
"I thought that Carson Mark relieved Preston Hammer from his post as
of the computing group since they had a personal conflict."
Oral history - Cuthbert C. Hurd 1950s
"And there's one prior name who was involved -- Preston Hammer -- and
a tall Ph.D. who wore glasses, became involved in an altercation of
some kind and they both left."
Oral history - Mary Ellen Rudin Wisconsin period
Oral history - Enders Robinson Wisconsin 1958
"At Los Alamos in the '50s someone would get an idea and go down the
hall and get Preston Hammer to put it on the computer and six weeks
later you get printouts and find out whether the guess was right."
Preston Hammer was a member of the Math Department Faculty at the
University of Wisconsin from 1952-1964.
[conflicts with Wisconsin's web site which says 1962]
He later became Chairman of
the Computer Science Department at The Pennsylvania State
University. Preston Hammer returned to the University of Wisconsin,
where he served as Chairman of the Numerical Department; he also spent
a year as a Visiting Professor at the University of San
Diego [1962-63]. Mr. Hammer was also a student at the University of
where he was a member of Pi Mu Epsilon fraternity [national
mathematics honor society].
LinkedIn profile... several errors here)
"Coffman replaced Bruce H. Barnes, who served as acting in the
absence of Preston C. Hammer, computer science director for seven
years. Hammer, on sabbatical Fall and Winter terms [1972-73], was eased out of
his job as it passed from one acting director to another."
(see here, June 1 1973)
"Professors see trouble in department shake-up"
The Daily Collegian, 17 January 1973.
"Penn State is accredited with having
one of the best, if not the best, computer
science departments in the nation. It
developed, largely through the efforts of
Hammer, a highly sophisticated undergraduate degree program which
enables students to find work with a
24 Feb 1972, Daily Collegian, Penn State, 'Preston C. Hammer
will speak on 'Creativity" at 8 p.m. Thursday in
More juicy material from Penn State: google search for "preston hammer site:psu.edu"
Computer Science Board panel (with Perlis, Feigenbaum)
Seminar at Grand Valley state colleges/university, Oct. 28 1981. Rehabilitation of Concepts in Mathematics.
Nice mention in
Someone, can't tell who but apparently the same person who created the
Linkedin profile, collected a bunch of links to his writings. The page
is off line now, but it's
The Computing Laboratory in the University (editor).
Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1957.
Bibliography on Color Blindness.
University of Wisconsin, Numerical Analysis Laboratory, 1960.
Advances in Mathematical Systems Theory (editor).
Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 1969.
(for which he wrote five articles)
JAR's pinboard page,
Google Scholar search,
list at Microsoft Academic Search,
Hathi Trust (three full PDFs),
Taylor and Francis Online (5 paywalled articles)
Crawford, J . R., and Hammer, P. C., Statistical quality control at Lockheed. Quality
Control Report No. 9 published by W.P.B., Carnegie Institute of Technology Quality
Control Program, September 1945.
Convex bodies associated with a convex body.
Various articles in
Mathematical Tables and Other Aids to Computation,
volume 9, 1955.
Trapezoidal methods of approximating solutions of differential equations.
Thoughts concerning Stretch.
Theoretical possibilities of automatic computers.
P. C. Hammer, O. J. Marlowe and A. H. Stroud.
Numerical Integration over Simplexes and Cones.
Mathematics of Computation 10:130-137, 1956.
Preston C. Hammer and Arthur H. Stroud.
Numerical Evaluation of Multiple Integrals II.
Technical report No.5 typescript, 20 pages, Office of Ordnance
Research, US Army, November 1957.
Mathematical problems in your life.
Wisconsin Academy Review Vol. 5, No. 3, 1958.
Information, communication, and language.
A lecture delivered at Sandia Corp., Albuquerque, N. Mex., June 18, 1958.
(order from NTIS)
Extended topology: the continuity concept.
Mathematics Magazine 36(2): 101-105, 1963.
The role and nature of mathematics.
Pi Mu Epsilon Journal, spring 1964.
Topologies of approximation.
Journal of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics: Series
B, Numerical Analysis, Volume 1, 1964.
Extended topology: continuity I.
Portug. Math. 25:77–93, 1964.
Cited by Stadler, The topology of evolutionary biology, 2004.
Book review: Experimental arithmetic.
Technometrics 7:82, 1965.
Topologies, computing, and modeling.
In Proceedings of the sixth annual International Symposium on Computers and Operations Research.
University Park : Pennsylvania State University, 1966.
Chart of elemental mathematics.
In Advances in Mathematical Systems Theory (q.v.)
Language, approximation, and extended topologies.
Approaches in Linguistic Methodology, 1967.
In Advances in Mathematical Systems Theory,
Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 1969.
Standards and mathematical terminology.
Manuscript, circa 1969.
Manuscript, circa 1970.
Undergraduate computer science education.
ACM SIGCSE Bulletin Homepage archive
2(3):1-5, November 1970
Computer science and smaller colleges.
Proceedings of the Annual ACM SIGUCCS Symposium on the
Administration and Management of Small-College Computing Centers 3-5, 1972.
Connected sets: Bases and metrics. Mathematical Systems
Theory [Theory of Computing Systems] 5(3): 282-288, 1971.
Mathematics and systems theory.
In Trends in General Systems Theory,
edited by G. J. Klir, John Wiley, New York, 1972, pp. 408-433.
Review of The Nonmathematical Foundations of Mathematics.
SIAM Review 15(2):392–393, 1973.
Randomness is nonsense.
ACM SIGSIM Simulation Digest 8:11, 1976.
Review of The Future of Applied Mathematics (W. Freiberger,
SIAM Rev. 18:310-11,
Limits for control charts, second article.
Quality Engineering 1:353-360, 1989. [Obviously a posthumous reprint. The date
is from the web site. Looks as if
the article was written around 1945, especially since it cites the
closely related first article, which is dated 1945.]