Two Volumes of F.W.J. Olver's Selected Papers Published, Lauded
The selected papers of Frank Olver, a guest researcher in ITL's Mathematical and Computational Sciences Division, were recently republished in a two-volume commemorative collection. The 1074-page Selected Papers of F.W.J. Olver, Parts I and II, were edited by Roderick Wong of the City University of Hong Kong and published by World Scientific Publishing Co. in 2000. The 56 reprinted papers cover the general areas of asymptotic analysis, special functions, and numerical analysis, from 1949 through 1999. Olver is particularly known for his extensive work in the study of the asymptotic solution of differential equations, that is, the behavior of solutions as the independent variable, or some parameter, tends to infinity. Such problems have myriad applications in the physical sciences.
In a review of the collection in the September 2001 issue of SIAM Review, a flagship publication of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Jet Wimp of Drexel University had high praise for the collection and for Olver's work. He said that the papers "exemplify a redoubtable mathematical talent, the work of a man who has done more than almost anyone else in the 20th century to bestow on the discipline of applied mathematics the elegance and rigor that its earliest practitioners such as Gauss and Laplace would have wished for it." In a "Personal Tribute" published in volume I of the collection, Douglas Jones of the University of Dundee credits Olver as "the man who revolutionized the evaluation of Bessel functions in the days when calculations were carried out on mechanical, or occasionally electrical machines." He goes on to praise "the clarity of Olver's writing, the tremendous precision of his mathematical reasoning and the brilliance of his technical ability."
Nearly half of the papers reprinted in the two volumes cite an NBS affiliation. Olver was on the NBS staff full time during 1957-58 and 1961-69. He held a joint appointment with NBS and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at the University of Maryland from that time until 1986. He is currently Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland and a NIST guest researcher.
At NIST, Olver is currently serving as Mathematics Editor of the Digital Library of Mathematical Functions, an ongoing project to update, expand, and bring to the Web the classic Handbook of Mathematical Functions (NBS AMS 55, M. Abramowitz and I. Stegun, eds., 1964), to which he was an original contributor.