Hans-Joachim Bremermann

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Hans-Joachim Bremermann

Hans-Joachim Bremermann (1926–1996) was a German-American mathematician and biophysicist. He worked on computer science and evolution, introducing new ideas of how mating generates new gene combinations. Bremermann's limit, named after him, is the maximum computational speed of a self-contained system in the material universe.

Bremermann was born in Bremen, Germany of parents Bernard Bremermann and Berta Wicke. He held chairs at the University of California, Berkeley in both mathematics and biophysics, being promoted to full professor in 1966.

Bremermann's doctoral studies were undertaken at the University of Münster, with his Staatsexamen in mathematics and physics completed in 1951. In the same year his doctoral dissertation Die Charakterisierung von Regularitätsgebieten durch pseudokonvexe Funktionen and was to become a specialist in complex analysis. This was a special case of the Levi problem. He came to the United States in 1952 to a research associate position at Stanford University. In 1953, he was appointed a research fellow at Harvard University.

On 16 May 1954 Bremermann married Maria Isabel Lopez Perez-Ojed, a scholar of romance language and literature. He returned to Munster for 1954–55. After returning to the United States, he spent 1955–57 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was then appointed assistant professor at the University of Washington, Seattle for 1957–58.

R.W. Anderson writes:

"[Bremermann] continued to develop mathematical modelling as a tool to understanding complex (especially biological) systems for the rest of his life. His intellectual journey was marked by brilliant insight and foresight."[1]

In 1978 he gave the "What Physicists Do" series of lectures at Sonoma State University, discussing physical limitations to mathematical understanding of physical and biological systems.

He continued work in mathematical biology through the 1980s on models of parasites and disease. He retired from the University of California in 1991.

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