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Bill Gosper

From Academic Kids

R. William Gosper, Jr., known as Bill Gosper, is a mathematician and programmer. Along with Richard Greenblatt, he may be 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 fraction representations of real numbers, and for suggesting the algorithm (which bears his name) for finding closed form hypergeometric identities.

Gosper received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from MIT in 1965. Affiliated with the MIT AI Lab during his prime, he performed many programming feats in computational mathematics, the MIT MacLisp system, and HAKMEM. He 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, 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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