Preston C. Hammer
Preston Clarence Hammer (October 12, 1913 – April 14, 1986) was
an American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator. He
taught at Oregon State University, University of Wisconsin, Penn
State, and Grand Valley State Colleges. At Penn State (1965 – about
1974) he was chair of the
newly formed Computer Science department. He worked at Lockheed in
the 1940s and at Los Alamos
National Laboratories in the 1950s. He was a champion of handson
education in computing, clashing with academics who preferred a
curriculum treating the subject in a purely academic manner.
Chronology
Early career

October 12, 1913: Born Rockford, Michigan
(Klir)

1934: undergraduate
degree (magna cum laude) from the Kalamazoo College
(Parter)

1935: masters degree from the University of Michigan
(Parter)

1938: Ohio State University doctoral dissertation
Projective Geometries Over A PseudoField.

1939: Ph.D. The Ohio State University.
Advisor:
Tibor Radó.
(math genealogy project) [conflicts with Parter and OSC,
who say PhD 1938]

193840:
Instructor in Mathematics, University of Michigan
(see here)
 Married Hilda Knight, August 6 1939 [from Centre Daily Times obit]

194047 [or 48]: Oregon State College.
"PRESTON CLARENCE HAMMER, Ph.D., Associate Professor of
Mathematics. A.B. (1934), Kalamazoo College; A.B.[sic; actually masters] (1935),
Michigan; Ph.D. (1938), Ohio State."
(Oregon State College catalog)

194446: Lockheed (California) [KK]

194748: "At Oregon State since 1940. On leave of absence."
(see here)

194752: Los Alamos [PHM]

1948:
Listed
in proceedings
as "Staff Member" at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.
Attended
IBM Scientific Computation Forum.

1949: was at Los Alamos
(see
IBM Computation Seminar 1949  warning, big, slow download)

1951: was at Los Alamos
(Parter)

(Note: The first storedprogram computer at Los Alamos was the MANIAC,
which didn't come on line until March 1952, a few months before PCH
left Los Alamos for Wisconsin. I've found no evidence
that PCH programmed it but it's possible he did. His computation experience from 1947 to
1951 seems to have been with the
IBM CPC and its predecessor(s); see
Akera's book. Parter says "the development of computation at Los Alamos
was placed in another group during the summer of 1951" and that Wisconsin
"lured" PCH away from Los Alamos  but that wasn't until fall of 1952.)
Wisconsin

1952–65 U of Wisconsin, Madison (Mathematics 5262; on leave 6263;
6364 Numerical Analysis; 6465 Computer Science)

1952: U of Wisconsin: "Preston C. Hammer appointed associate professor of mathematics
for the academic year 195253; salary $7,500 for the academic year"
(U of Wisconsin)

19521964: 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".
PCH must have had some association with this project.)

1955: Director, Numerical Analysis Laboratory, U Wisconsin Madison
(attribution)

circa 1955:
"Professor Hammer now has the ranking of professor of
mathematics at University of Wisconsin." (Kalamazoo College
Alumnus, 1955)

"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)

195960 Sabbatical in Zurich, Switzerland [KK]

1961: According to Parter: "He went to the administration and
created the department of numerical analysis in September 1961."
[The CS department web site says 1963, so this claim is perplexing.]

1962: Left U Wisc math dept? (see Wisconsin Math web site)  apparently he was still with
the department in 196263, but on leave.

196263: on leave [in San Diego] for the academic year
(Parter)
(see also here)
 1963: U Wisc Dept of Numerical Analysis started
(see here)
[disagrees with Parter, who says 1961 and gives details]
 1964: U Wisc Computer Science department formed (formerly Numerical Analysis)
(see here)

June 1965: left Wisconsin
(Parter)
Penn State

196573 at Penn State (see
here etc.)

1966:
"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."
(see
here)

1967: at Penn State (see
here)

1968: Penn State
'The weekly noon happening today in the Memorial Lounge of
Eisenhower Chapel, The Creative Edge, presents,
the Department of Computer Science's own Preston C. Hammer
in discussion of "Information and Communication."'
(here)

1972: Chairman of Penn State CS department? (google search)

197273: on sabbatical from Penn State
(see here)
Late career

197374: don't know.

197478:
Grand Valley State Colleges: "Preston Hammer (Ph.D. 1939 Ohio State University) 1974  1978 Highest Rank: Professor, 1974"
(see here)

1978: Retired (I presume) at age 65.

died April 1986
(see here)
(also Klir obit)

died 14 April 1986
(according to here)
About PCH

Wiebe E Bijker et al.,
Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary
Perspectives, MIT Press, 2005, page 80
"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."

Oral history  Ted Taylor 195053  fission bomb [? I think
fusion, not fission]  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
head 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  Enders Robinson Wisconsin 1958

"Professor predicts conputer [sic] future."
The Daily Cardinal, Madison, Wisconsin, 21 May 1964, pages 4–5.

"Numerical analysis department expands."
The Daily Cardinal, Madison, Wisconsin, 21 May 1964, page 5.
"Another evidence of its growth is the split of the
N.A. department into two areas  the Computer Science Department
[under Hammer] and the University of Wisconsin Computing Center."

Oral history  Mary Ellen Rudin Wisconsin period

Seymour Parter.
A Personal History of the Department of Computer Sciences [at University of
Wisconsin]. Undated web page.

24 Feb 1972, Daily Collegian, Penn State.
'Preston C. Hammer
will speak on 'Creativity" at 8 p.m. Thursday in
202 Burrowes.'

Daily Collegian (?), June 1 1973
"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 [197273], was eased out of
his job as it passed from one acting director to another."

"Professors see trouble in department shakeup."
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
baccalaureate degree."
(stale link)

Deaths  Preston Hammer.
Centre Daily Times (Penn State), 14 April 1986.
 George J. Klir.
Editorial.
International Journal of General Systems 18:283285, 1991.
The editorial features a long overdue obituary of PCH,
"a great scholar and a good human being."
"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. ..."

The Mathematics Genealogy Project lists
16 students,
including David
Moursund and
Robert Barnhill,
and 372 'descendants'.
All students graduated from Wisconsin in the period 195666.
Misc

For more juicy material from Penn State: google search for "preston hammer site:psu.edu"
[Penn State seems to have hidden its archives since I wrote that  darnit]

1965: Supervised the
first computer science PhD awarded at Wisconsin:
Sister Mary Kenneth.
Inductive Inference on Computer Generated Patterns.
May 21, 1965.

12 Jul 1974, Computer Science Board panel (with Perlis, Feigenbaum)
(link is dead now, sorry)

Seminar at Grand Valley state colleges/university, Oct. 28 1981. Rehabilitation of Concepts in Mathematics.
(see here)
Bibliography
General interest
Books
Book chapters

Problems in nonlinear nonmechanics.
In William F. Ames (editor), Nonlinear Problems of
Engineering, Academic Press, 1964, pages 208216.
(google books)
[JAR: a fun read, full of classic Hammerisms]

Chart of elemental mathematics.
1967.
In Advances in Mathematical Systems Theory (q.v.)
(10 pages).

Language, approximation, and extended topologies.
In I. Rauch and C. T. Scott (eds.), Approaches in Linguistic
Methodology, University of Wisconsin Press, 1967.

Approximation spaces.
In Advances in Mathematical Systems Theory,
Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 1969.

Continuity.
In Advances in Mathematical Systems Theory,
Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, 1969.

Organization of mathematical systems.
Chapter VI3, pages 985 ff. of
Progress of Cybernetics: Cybernetics and natural
sciences. Cybernetics and the social sciences.
Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 1970.
Also(?) published by
World Organisation of General Systems and Cybernetics.
(Thanks to Han de Bruijn for bringing this to my attention.)

Mathematics and systems theory.
In Trends in General Systems Theory,
edited by G. J. Klir, John Wiley, New York, 1972, pp. 408433.
Academic articles

Andrew Sobczyk and Preston C. Hammer.
A decomposition of additive set functions.
Duke Mathematical Journal 11:839846, 1944.

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.

Limits for control charts.
Industrial Quality Control, 1945.
Reprinted as a "golden oldie" in Quality Engineering 1(3):345352, 1989.

Limits for control charts, second article. 1945.
Reprinted in Quality Engineering 1(3):353360, 1989.

Proceedings, Computation Seminar, 1949,
with contributions by: John von Neumann, PCH, and others

Interference with a controlled process.
Journal of the American Statistical Association 45:249256, 1950.
(via tandfonline, paywalled)

Convex bodies associated with a convex body.
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, AEC, 1950.
(23 pages)

The centroid of a convex body.
AECU869, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, AEC, 1950.
(available from Hathi Trust and JSTOR.)

Best starting value for an iterative process of taking roots.
Proceedings, Computation Seminar, IBM, 1949.
Republished by Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, AEC, 1950.
(via Hathi Trust)

Calculation of shielding properties of water for high energy neutrons.
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, AEC, 1950.
(via Hathi Trust)

The midsquare method of generating digits.
1951. (google scholar says it's cited somewhere.)

Associated convex bodies.
AECU1588, Atomic Energy Commission, 1951.
(via Hathi Trust and JSTOR)

Punchcard methods. 1952. TBD (microsoft)

Areas swept out by tangent line segments. TBD (scholar)

Diameters of convex bodies. 1954. TBD (microsoft)

Various articles in
Mathematical Tables and Other Aids to Computation,
volume 9, 1955.

(with Jack W. Hollingsworth)
Trapezoidal methods of approximating solutions of differential equations.
Mathematical Tables and Other Aids to Computation
9(51):9296, 1955.
(Available from JSTOR)

Maximal convex sets.
Duke Mathematical Journal 22(1):103106, 1955.

Thoughts concerning Stretch.
1956.

Theoretical possibilities of automatic computers.
1956.

P. C. Hammer, O. J. Marlowe and A. H. Stroud.
Numerical Integration over Simplexes and Cones.
Mathematics of Computation 10:130137, 1956.

Preston C. Hammer and A. Wayne Wymore.
Numerical Evaluation of Multiple Integrals I.
Mathematical Tables and Other Aids to Computation
11(58):59–67.

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.
Also published by AMS in 1958. Available via JSTOR.

Can optimal symbolic structures be created?
Second International Congress on Cybernetics, 1958.
[selfcitation in "Problems in nonlinear nonmechanics". I cannot find
these proceedings anywhere.]

Information, communication, and language.
A lecture delivered at Sandia Corp., Albuquerque, N. Mex., June 18,
1958.
Atomic Energy Commission, 1959.
[It claims to be available from NTIS but I couldn't find it that way;
I eventually got it via interlibrary loan.]
[available via Hathi Trust I think]

The midpoint method of numerical integration.
Mathematics Magazine 31(4):193195, 1958.
[available from JSTOR]

(with H. G. Eggleston) Problems in Euclidean Space. Application of continuity.
American Mathematical Monthly, 1959.

Hammer, P.C., Holladay, J.C.
Functions of restricted variation.
Rendiconti del Circolo Matematico di Palermo 8:102–114, 1959.

Preston C. Hammer and Howard H. Wicke.
Quadrature formulas involving derivatives of the integrand.
Mathematics of Computation
14(69): 37, 1960.
American Mathematical Society
 Kuratowski's Closure Theorem. Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde
8:7480, 1960.
 Extended Topology: SetValued SetFunctions. Nieuw Archief
voor Wiskunde 10:5577, 1962.
 Extended Topology: Additive and SubAdditive Subfunctions.
Rendiconto del rcolo Matematico di Palermo Ser. 2 11:26270.
 Book review: Finitedifference method for partial differential
equations, by George E. Forsythe and Wolfgang R. Wasow.
Technometrics 4(1):143144, 1962.
(via tandfonline, probably paywalled)

Extended topology: Additive and subadditive subfunctions of a function.
Rendiconti del Circolo Matematico di Palermo
11:262270, 1962.

Extended topology: the continuity concept.
Mathematics Magazine 36(2):101105, 1963.

Extended topology: connected sets and Wallace separations.
Portugaliae Mathematics 25:77–93, 1963.

Extended topology: Domain finiteness.
Indagationes Mathematicae 200212, 1963.

Approximation of convex surfaces by algebraic surfaces.
Mathematika 10(1):6471, 1963.

Convex curves of constant Minkowski beadth.
In Victor Klee (editor), Convexity: Proceedings of the Seventh
Symposium in Pure Mathematics
7:291–304, 1963.

Semispaces and the topology of convexity.
In Victor Klee (editor), Convexity: Proceedings of the Seventh
Symposium in Pure Mathematics.
American Mathematical Society 7:305–316, 1963.

Topologies of approximation.
Journal of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics: Series
B, Numerical Analysis, Volume 1, 1964.
(also available via JSTOR)

Extended topology: continuity I.
Portugaliae Mathematics 25:77–93, 1964.
(Cited by Stadler, see below.)

Extended topology: Structure of isotonic functions.
Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik
19(213):174186, 1964.

Conditions equivalent to central symmetry of convex curves.
1964. TBD (microsoft)

Book review: Experimental arithmetic.
Technometrics 7:82, 1965.
(paywalled)

Extended topology: Caratheodory's theorem on convex hulls.
Rendiconti del Circolo Matematico di Palermo
14:3442, 1965.

Casti and Hammer.
Extended topology: Neighborhoods and convergents.
Proc. Colloquim on Convexity, 1965. google scholar says it's cited somewhere.

Isotonic spaces in convexity. 1965. TBD (scholar)

Review of Qualitative methods in mathematical analysis.
TDB

Topologies, computing, and modeling.
In Proceedings of the sixth annual International Symposium on Computers and Operations Research.
University Park : Pennsylvania State University, 1966.

Extended topology and systems.
Theory of Computing Systems 1(2),
1967.
SpringerLink

Standards and mathematical terminology.
Manuscript, circa 1969.

Mind pollution.
Cybernetics 14:5–19, 1971.
Also published as Mind pollution and education in mathematics.
The GVSC Review 2(1) article 4, 1975.

Undergraduate computer science education.
ACM SIGCSE Bulletin homepage archive
2(3):15, November 1970

Filters and mathematical systems. IEEE, 1970. TBD (scholar)

Computer science and smaller colleges.
Proceedings of the Annual ACM SIGUCCS Symposium on the
Administration and Management of SmallCollege Computing Centers 35, 1972.

Connected sets: Bases and metrics.
Mathematical Systems
Theory [Theory of Computing Systems] 5(3):282288, 1971.

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,
ed.).
SIAM Review 18:31011, 1976

Recommendations on computer science curriculum for undergraduate
degree programs.
Technical symposium on computer science education, 1976.
(panel abstract only?)

Review of Mathematics Today: Twelve Informal Essays (Lynn Arthur
Steen, ed.). SIAM Review 22(2):250252, 1980
(Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics)
TBD: Trawl these sources for more:
I have the following reference from somewhere but have failed to track
it down:
Bibliography on Color Blindness.
University of Wisconsin, Numerical Analysis Laboratory, 1960.
PCH was not color blind.
References to PCH
Not very many that I could find. Here are a couple but I'm sure there
are more. ( microsoft seems to have a few hundred of them!)

Barry Smith.
Topological Foundations of Cognitive Science, in C. Eschenbach,
C. Habel and B. Smith (eds.), Topological Foundations of Cognitive
Science, Hamburg: Graduiertenkolleg Kognitionswissenschaft, 1994.

R.A. King, Mr T.C. Phipps.
Shannon, TESPAR and approximation strategies.
Computers & Security
18(5):445453, 1999.
ISSN 01674048.
 Stadler B.M.R., Stadler P.F.
The Topology of Evolutionary Biology.
In: Ciobanu G., Rozenberg G. (eds), Modelling in Molecular
Biology. Natural Computing Series. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2004.
 de Bruijn, Han.
Funktioneren.
Undated web page, in Dutch.
Offline sources
Personal
Son of Adam and Ada Zimmerman Hammer
Children: Phoebe McDonald, Frances Stevenson, Nick Hammer, Kathryn
Kerman, Arthur Hammer [from the Centre Daily Times obit]
1940s
1982
Note about this page
This page was assembled by Jonathan Rees in late 2012, with a few
additions since then. Obviously this is just some
notes thrown together; perhaps with some TLC they could be stitched together
into a coherent narrative.
Why did I do this? I met PCH around 1976 and was impressed and
amused by his
eccentric, rebellious manner. In 2012, when cleaning out a file
cabinet, I came across some reprints he had given 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 was thinking of creating a Wikipedia page. I
think he qualifies as notable and the Parter and Klir articles provide
enough general information to satisfy Wikipedia notability rules. Creating the
article is mainly a matter of the grueling work required to format the
article and references correctly.
Photos kindly provided by Arthur K. Hammer  many thanks. All rights reserved.
Thanks to various family members and admirers for their contributions.
License
Copyright to
Preston Hammer web page by
Jonathan A Rees, exclusive
of images, is licensed
under the Creative
Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
It is possible that some elements of this page are not covered by
copyright law.