Stanislaw Ulam

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Stanislaw Ulam [1]

Stanisław Marcin Ulam, (April 13, 1909 – May 13, 1984)
a Polish mathematician, known for his participation in the Manhattan Project , the Teller-Ulam design of thermonuclear weapons and the Fermi–Pasta–Ulam experiment. A group of H-bomb researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory around Stanislaw Ulam, Paul Stein, Mark Wells and John Pasta developed the chess-playing program [2] [3] for the MANIAC I by John von Neumann and Nicholas Metropolis. It played Los Alamos Chess on a 6×6 board without bishops.


Fred Guterl

by Fred Guterl from Silicon gambit [4] :

The government laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, got hold of one of the first computers, MANIAC I, so that Ulam and the other H-bomb researchers wouldn't have to stay up nights solving their voluminous equations with pencil and paper. Ulam, who described himself modestly as a "fair" chess player, couldn't resist putting the machine to work on a project of somewhat less import to coldwar strategy. Together with physicist Paul Stein, he wrote one of the first chess-playing programs. 

Aviezri Fraenkel

by Aviezri Fraenkel [5] [6] :

The late Stanislaw Ulam invented the Monte Carlo method in 1949 in order to solve problems in nuclear physics (see Metropolis and Ulam, 1949), while working at the Manhattan project developing nuclear weapons, and contributing to the major breakthroughs of their time. In fact, the idea occurred to him in 1946, while trying to estimate the chances of winning Canfield solitaire. Even much before Ulam, Enrico Fermi, Buffon (the “needle experiment”), and others experimented with precursors of the method.
The Monte Carlo method has since been used extensively and successfully in space-shuttle re-entry aerodynamics, operations research, physical chemistry, numerical integration, finance and many more, in addition to physics. I was glad to see that the ideas of Stan Ulam on games and physics re-emerged after almost 70 years. Stan was a theoretical mathematician, but excelled also in applied math, physics and biology, and was involved with the early 6 x 6 computer chess program. Above all, he was extraordinarily original. 

Selected Publications

Paul Stein (1986). Experiments in Chess on Electronic Computing Machines: Some Early Efforts.
Gian-Carlo Rota (1987). The Lost Café. pdf
Paul Stein (1987). Iteration of Maps, Strange Attractors, and Number Theory - An Ulamian Potpourri. pdf

See also

External Links

Lucky number from Wikipedia


  1. Stanislaw Ulam, circa 1945, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Wikimedia Commons, Unless otherwise indicated, this information has been authored by an employee or employees of the Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Government has rights to use, reproduce, and distribute this information. The public may copy and use this information without charge, provided that this Notice and any statement of authorship are reproduced on all copies. Neither the Government nor LANS makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for the use of this information.
  2. Paul Stein, Stanislaw Ulam (1957). Experiments in chess on electronic computing machines. Chess Review, 13 January 1957.
  3. James Kister, Paul Stein, Stanislaw Ulam, William Walden, Mark Wells (1957). Experiments in Chess. Journal of the ACM, Vol. 4, No. 2
  4. Silicon gambit by Fred Guterl, Discover, June 01, 1996
  5. Aviezri Fraenkel (2013). Reflection. ICGA Journal, Vol. 36, No. 1
  6. Nicholas Metropolis, Stanislaw Ulam (1949). The Monte Carlo Method. Journal of the American Statistical Association, Vol. 44, pp. 335–341
  7. Herbert L. Anderson (1986). Metropolis, Monte Carlo, and the MANIAC. Los Alamos Science, pdf
  8. Monte Carlo History by Dario Bressanini

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