David E. Muller

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David Eugene Muller (November 2, 1924 – April 27, 2008) was an American mathematician and computer scientist. He was a professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of Illinois (1953–92), when he became an emeritus professor, and was an adjunct professor of mathematics at the New Mexico State University (1995-2008). Muller received his BS in 1947 and his PhD in 1951 in physics from Caltech; an honorary PhD was conferred by the University of Paris in 1989.[1] He was the inventor of the Muller C-element (or Muller C-gate), a device used to implement asynchronous circuitry in electronic computers. He also co-invented the Reed–Muller codes. He discovered the codes, and Irving S. Reed proposed the majority logic decoding for the first time.


David E. Muller was the son of Hermann Joseph Muller and Jessie Jacobs Muller Offermann (formerly Jesse Marie Jacobs). He was born in Austin, Texas, when his parents taught at The University of Texas. His mother, who was one of the earliest women who received a Ph.D. in mathematics in the United States,[2] lost her position as an instructor in pure mathematics at Texas because she became pregnant, and according to Hermann Joseph Muller's biographer, "her colleagues felt that a mother could not give full attention to classroom duties and remain a good mother."[3] As a child he was with his parents in Berlin and Leningrad in 1933–34. His family was dissolved in the Soviet Union. He returned to Austin with his mother in July 1934. His mother obtained a divorce in Texas in the summer of 1935. Sometime between October 1935 and January 1936, Jessie Muller married Carlos Alberto Offermann, who had been working in Muller's laboratory and was on a visit to Austin from the Soviet Union at that time.[2] Hermann Joseph Muller left the Soviet Union in 1937 after the start of Stalin's political persecutions. After a brief stay in Madrid and Paris, in September 1937, Hermann moved to Edinburgh, where he married Dorothea Kantorowicz in May 1939. They had a daughter, Helen Juliette. Hermann Joseph Muller received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1946.

David E. Muller died in 2008 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He is survived by his children, Chandra L. Muller and Kenneth J. Muller. His half-sister, Helen J. Muller, is a professor emerita at the University of New Mexico. He was predeceased by his wife Alice Mimi Muller, who died in Urbana, IL, in 1989, and divorced (posthumously) in 2009 from his second wife, Denise Impens Muller, in Las Cruces, NM.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marquis Who's Who (2008). Who's Who in the World 2007. Chicago, Ill: Marquis Who's Who. p. 3002. ISBN 0-8379-1137-0. 
  2. ^ a b Judy Green and Jeanne LaDuke, Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhD's, American Mathematical Society, 2008, 260–262.
  3. ^ Elof Carlson, Genes, Radiation, and Society, Cornell University Press, 1982, 133.