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VCF 10.0 - Speaker Biography


Bill Gosper


Bill Gosper is a mathematician and programmer, originally from Pennsauken, New Jersey. He and Richard Greenblatt, he is considered to have founded the hacker community, and holds a place of pride in the Lisp community. He is also noted for his work on continued fractional representations of real numbers, and for suggesting the algorithm (which bears his name) for finding closed form hypergeometric identities.

Gosper enrolled in MIT in 1961, and received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from MIT in 1965. After taking a course on programming in his second year with John McCarthy, Gosper became affiliated with the MIT AI Lab. His contributions to computational mathematics include HAKMEM [1] and the MIT Maclisp system. He also made major contributions to the Macsyma computer algebra system at MIT, later working with Symbolics and Macsyma, Inc. on the greatly improved commercial versions.

He became intensely interested in the Game of Life shortly after John Horton Conway had proposed it. Conway conjectured on the existence of infinitely growing patterns, and offered a reward for an example. Gosper was the first to find such a pattern (specifically, the Glider gun), and won the prize. Gosper was also the originator of the hashlife algorithm that can speed up the computation of Life patterns by many orders of magnitude.

In the 1970s Gosper moved to California for a three year stint at Stanford, where he lectured and helped Donald Knuth write volume II of The Art of Computer Programming.

Since that time, he has worked at or consulted for Xerox PARC, Symbolics, Wolfram Research, the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and Macsyma Inc.

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