Gertrude Blanch

Mathematician, Deceased Person

1897 – 1996

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Who was Gertrude Blanch?

Gertrude Blanch was an American mathematician who did pioneering work in numerical analysis and computation.

Blanch was born Gittel Kaimowitz in Kolno, Poland, arrived in the United States as a child, and attended public schools in New York City. She spent fourteen years as a clerk, saving money for school. She received her B.S. in mathematics from New York University in 1932. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in algebraic geometry in 1935.

For a while she worked as a substitute teacher at Hunter College; then, in 1938, she began work on the Mathematical Tables Project of the WPA, for which she was technical director. This entailed designing algorithms that were executed by teams of human computers under her direction. Many of these computers possessed only rudimentary mathematical skills, but the algorithms and error checking in the Mathematical Tables Project were sufficiently well designed that their output defined the standard for transcendental function solution for decades. This project later became the Computation Laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards.

The Mathematical Tables Project became an independent organization following the termination of the WPA at the end of 1942. During World War II, it operated as a major computing computing office for the US government and did calculations for the Office for Scientific Research and Development, the Army, the Navy, the Manhattan Project and other institutions. Blanch led group throughout the war.

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  • Cornell University
  • New York University
Lived in
  • Dayton

on July 23, 2013


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