John G. Kemeny

John George Kemeny
John George Kemeny.jpg
13th President of Dartmouth College
In office
Preceded byJohn Sloan Dickey
Succeeded byDavid T. McLaughlin
Personal details
Born(1926-05-31)May 31, 1926
Budapest, Hungary
DiedDecember 26, 1992(1992-12-26) (aged 66)
Hanover, New Hampshire, United States
EducationPrinceton University (BA), (PhD) in Mathematics
AwardsComputer Pioneer Award (1985)

John George Kemeny; May 31, 1926[1] – December 26, 1992) was a Hungarian-Jewish born American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator best known for co-developing[2] the BASIC programming language in 1964 with Thomas E. Kurtz. Kemeny served as the 13th President of Dartmouth College from 1970 to 1981 and pioneered the use of computers in college education. Kemeny chaired the presidential commission that investigated the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.[2] According to György Marx he was one of The Martians.[3]

Early life

Born in Budapest, Hungary,[1] Kemeny attended the Rácz private primary school in Budapest and was a classmate of Nandor Balazs. In 1938 his father left for the United States alone. In 1940, he took the whole Kemeny family to the United States[1] when the adoption of the second anti-Jewish law in Hungary became imminent.[4] His grandfather, however, refused to leave and perished in the Holocaust, along with an aunt and uncle.[5] Kemeny's family settled in New York City where he attended George Washington High School. He graduated with the best results in his class three years later.[2] In 1943[1] Kemeny entered Princeton University where he studied mathematics and philosophy, but he took a year off during his studies to work on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos National Laboratory. His boss there was Richard Feynman. He also worked there with John von Neumann. Returning to Princeton, Kemeny graduated with his BA in 1947, then worked for his Doctorate under Alonzo Church, also at Princeton. He worked as Albert Einstein's mathematical assistant during graduate school.[1] At 23 years old, Kemeny was awarded his doctorate in 1949 for a dissertation entitled "Type-Theory vs. Set-Theory."[2]

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