Heinz Rutishauser

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Heinz Rutishauser (born January 30, 1918 in Weinfelden , Switzerland ; † November 10, 1970 in Zurich ) was a Swiss mathematician and a pioneer of modern numerical mathematics and computer science avant la lettre .


Heinz Rutishauser studied mathematics at the ETH Zurich from 1936 and graduated in 1942 with a diploma. From 1942 to 1945 he was Walter Saxer's assistant at the ETH and from 1945 to 1948 he was a mathematics teacher in Glarisegg and Trogen . In 1948 he received his doctorate from the ETH with a highly regarded dissertation on function theory .

In 1948/49 Rutishauser stayed in the USA at Harvard and Princeton Universities . From 1949 to 1955 he was a research assistant at the Institute for Applied Mathematics at the ETH Zurich, which had recently been founded by Eduard Stiefel , where, together with Ambros Speiser, he played a key role in the development of the first Swiss computer, ERMETH . He did pioneering work in the field of compilers in particular by describing the principle of a compiler and the additional program commands required for it in his habilitation thesis at the ETH as early as 1951. He also contributed to the definition of the programming languages Algol 58 + 60 .

In 1951 Rutishauser became a private lecturer , in 1955 an associate professor and in 1962 a full professor for applied mathematics at the ETH. In 1968 he became head of the department for computer science, from which the Institute for Computer Science and finally the Department of Computer Science at ETH Zurich emerged.

Since the 1950s at the latest, Rutishauser suffered from heart problems. In 1964 he suffered a serious heart attack from which he initially recovered. He died of acute heart failure in his office on November 10, 1970. After his early death, his wife Margrit took care of the publication of his posthumous works.

In 1958 he introduced the LR algorithm, which is based on the LR decomposition , but has now largely been replaced by the more stable QR algorithm .

The writer Hanna Rutishauser is his daughter.


  • Automatic calculation plan production. Habilitation thesis ETHZ, 1951.
  • Automatic calculation plan production with program-controlled calculating machines. Basel: Birkhäuser, 1952.
  • Some programming techniques for the ERMETH , JACM, 2 (1), pp. January 1-4, 1955.
  • With Alwin Walther u. Josef Heinhold : Contributions to the discussion at the 1955 computer conference in Darmstadt , 1956.
  • The quotient-difference algorithm. Basel: Birkhäuser, 1957.
  • Proposal for a universal language for the description of computing processes . 1958. Together with Hermann Bottenbruch , Friedrich L. Bauer and Klaus Samelson
  • Lectures on numerical mathematics. Volume I: Systems of Equations, Interpolation and Approximation. Martin Gutknecht (Ed.). Basel: Birkhäuser, 1976. ISBN 3-7643-0810-9 .
  • Lectures on numerical mathematics. Volume II: Differential Equations and Eigenvalue Problems. Martin Gutknecht (Ed.). Basel: Birkhäuser, 1976. ISBN 3-7643-0850-8 .
  • Heinz Rutishauser, Ambros Paul Speiser, Eduard Stiefel: Program-controlled digital computing devices (electronic computing machines). Basel: Birkhäuser, 1951.
  • Hans Rudolf Schwarz, Heinz Rutishauser, Eduard Stiefel: Numerics of symmetrical matrices. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1972, 2nd edition, ISBN 3-519-12311-8 .
  • Numerical procedures. From the estate and teaching. Walter Gander (ed.). Basel: Birkhäuser, May 1998, ISBN 3-7643-0874-5 .
  • With Roland Bulirsch interpolation and approximate quadrature , and representation of functions in calculators , in Robert Sauer , Istvan Szabo The mathematical tools of the engineer , Volume 3, Springer Verlag 1968


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Bruderer, Herbert Konrad Zuse and the ETH Zurich - On the 100th birthday of the computer science pioneer Konrad Zuse , Festschrift of the ETH Zurich, 2nd verb. and strong exp. Edition, February 2011, 40 pages.
  2. Stefan Betschon: The magic of the beginning. Swiss computer pioneers. In: Franz Betschon , Stefan Betschon, Jürg Lindecker, Willy Schlachter (eds.): Engineers build Switzerland. First-hand history of technology. Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich 2013, ISBN 978-3-03823-791-4 , pp. 376–399.
  3. Numerics, ALGOL and the Swiss High Alps. On the work on the biography of Heinz Rutishauser (1918–1970) . In: Informatik-Spektrum , October 2013, Vol. 36, pp. 463-486, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00287-013-0730-z (Springer Link); accessed on September 26, 2018.