[SIGCIS-Members] Historical Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Software
ddouglas at mit.edu
Tue Sep 22 12:25:54 PDT 2020
One thing to consider is that there are CFD specialists in several fields—chemical engineering and aeronautical engineering—are two that I’ve been interested in. If you go through the AIAA’s papers you will find a fair number of articles that may help you in the aerospace side of things. For example, here are two links to papers about CFD teaching at universities:
On Sep 22, 2020, at 2:29 PM, Patrick Graham <graha827 at umn.edu<mailto:graha827 at umn.edu>> wrote:
This set of problems is indeed very important to the history of computing, by my count. I recall a particularly powerful letter from Von Neumann to Oswald Veblen, sent by Von Neumann during a 1943 visit to the UK [my emphasis added]:
“I think that I see clearly that the best course for me at present is to concentrate on Ordinance work, and the Gas Dynamical matters connected therewith. I think I have learned here a good deal of experimental physics, particularly of the Gas Dynamical variety, and that I shall return a better and impurer man. I have also developed an obscene interest in computational techniques. I am looking forward to discussing these matters with you. I really feel like proselytizing — even if I am going to tell you only things which you have known much longer than I did.” (Quoted in full in Bill Aspray’s John Von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing, 27. Original letter from 21 May 1943, Oswald Veblen Papers, Library of Congress).
That Von Neumann spent some time at the Nautical Almanac Office (L.J. Comrie’s old haunt) during this trip is, I think, significant.
I have recently enjoyed thinking about these matters along lines outlined by Robert Moir in his chapter “Feasible Computation: Methodological Contributions from Computer Science” in Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics, ed. Michael E. Cuffaro and Samuel C. Fletcher (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018).
Perhaps these “feasible computations” are quite central to the history of modern computing, although I am not entirely convinced by Moir’s claim that we can “trace the historical origins of the … approximate form of [feasible computation] to techniques developed by physicists to overcome the computational limitations of the mathematical formulation of theories and models of natural phenomenon.” (see “Feasible Computation,” 174).
I’m afraid that I don’t possess the technical expertise to be of much more help in terms of 20th century “fluid dynamics,” but if your work on feasible methods ever brings you back to the 17th century (as it did Herman Goldstine in his History of Numerical Analysis), please drop me a line!
Graduate student at the University of Minnesota Program in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine
On Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 1:09 AM Ulf Hashagen <u.hashagen at deutsches-museum.de<mailto:u.hashagen at deutsches-museum.de>> wrote:
I became interested in the history of "Computational Fluid Dynamics
(CFD) Software" last week, but could not find much historical source
material on this topic so far. May I ask for your advice and comments?
PD Dr. Ulf Hashagen
Leitung / Head
Forschungsinstitut für Technik- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte / The Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology
80538 München / Munich
u.hashagen at deutsches-museum.de<mailto:u.hashagen at deutsches-museum.de>
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