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Dictionary Definition

hamming (See ham)


1 meat cut from the thigh of a hog (usually smoked) [syn: jambon, gammon]
2 (Old Testament) son of Noah
3 a licensed amateur radio operator
4 an unskilled actor who overacts [syn: ham actor] v : exaggerate one's acting [syn: overact, ham it up, overplay] [ant: underact] [also: hamming, hammed]hamming n : poor acting by a ham actor [syn: overacting]

Extensive Definition

Richard Wesley Hamming (Chicago, February 11, 1915Monterey, California, January 7, 1998) was an American mathematician whose work had many implications for computer science and telecommunications. His contributions include the Hamming code (which makes use of a Hamming matrix), the Hamming window (described in Section 5.8 of his book Digital Filters), Hamming numbers, Sphere-packing (or hamming bound) and the Hamming distance.
He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago in 1937, a master's degree from the University of Nebraska in 1939, and finally a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1942. He was a professor at the University of Louisville during World War II, and left to work on the Manhattan Project in 1945, programming one of the earliest electronic digital computers to calculate the solution to equations provided by the project's physicists. The objective of the program was to discover if the detonation of an atomic bomb would ignite the atmosphere. The result of the computation was that this would not occur, and so the United States used the bomb, first in a test in New Mexico, and then twice against Japan.
Later, between 1946-1976 he worked at the Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he collaborated with Claude E. Shannon. On July 23 1976 he moved to the Naval Postgraduate School, where he worked as an Adjunct Professor until 1997, when he became Professor Emeritus.
He was a founder and president of the Association for Computing Machinery.

Awards and professional recognition

The Richard W. Hamming Medal is an award given annually by IEEE for 'exceptional contributions to information sciences, systems and technology'.


  • Numerical Methods for Scientists and Engineers, McGraw-Hill, 1962; second edition 1973. Dover paperback reprint 1985.
  • Calculus and the Computer Revolution, Houghton-Mifflin, 1968.
  • Introduction To Applied Numerical Analysis, McGraw-Hill, 1971.
  • Computers and Society, McGraw-Hill, 1972.
  • Digital Filters, Prentice Hall, 1977; second edition 1983; third edition 1989. ISBN 0-486-65088-X Dover paperback reprint, ca. 2001.
  • Coding and Information Theory, Prentice Hall 1980; second edition 1986.
  • Methods of Mathematics Applied to Calculus, Probability, and Statistics, Prentice Hall, 1985. Dover paperback reprint, ca. 2005. Unconventional introductory textbook which attempts to both teach calculus and give some idea of what it is good for at the same time. Might be of special interest to someone teaching an introductory calculus course using a conventional textbook, in order to pick up some new pedagogical viewpoints.
  • The Art of Probability for Scientists and Engineers, Addison-Wesley, 1991.
  • The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn, Gordon and Breach, 1997. Entertaining and instructive. Hamming tries to extract general lessons -- both personal and technical -- to aid one in having a successful technical career by telling stories from his own experiences. (Some of this material relating to the self-management of one's technical career can be found online at the You and Your Research link; see below.) One of Hamming's lessons is never trust without question someone who claims to be giving you highly accurate data to analyze -- not because they're deliberately lying to you but because the data is never as accurate as people think.


  • Machines should work. People should think.
  • ''Does anyone believe that the difference between the Lebesgue and Riemann integrals can have physical significance, and that whether say, an airplane would or would not fly could depend on this difference? If such were claimed, I should not care to fly in that plane.
  • There are wavelengths that people cannot see, there are sounds that people cannot hear, and maybe computers have thoughts that people cannot think. (The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics)
  • The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.
  • Newton said, "If I have seen further than others, it is because I've stood on the shoulders of giants." These days we stand on each other's feet!'' (You and Your Research)
  • What are the most important problems in your field? Are you working on one of them? Why not? (Generalization from You and Your Research)
  • The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, in my opinion, has ruined more good scientists than any institution has created. (You and Your Research)
  • It is better to solve the right problem the wrong way than to solve the wrong problem the right way.
  • Beware of finding what you're looking for.
  • You cannot have a science without measurement.
hamming in Bengali: রিচার্ড হ্যামিং
hamming in Danish: Richard W. Hamming
hamming in German: Richard Hamming
hamming in Spanish: Richard Hamming
hamming in French: Richard Hamming
hamming in Korean: 리처드 해밍
hamming in Georgian: რიჩარდ ჰამინგი
hamming in Dutch: Richard Hamming
hamming in Japanese: リチャード・ハミング
hamming in Polish: Richard Hamming
hamming in Portuguese: Richard Hamming
hamming in Serbian: Ричард Хаминг
hamming in Turkish: Richard Hamming
hamming in Chinese: 理查德·衛斯里·漢明
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