Petr Vaníček (born 1935 in Sušice, Czechoslovakia, today in Czech Republic) is a Czech Canadian geodesist and theoretical geophysicist who has made important breakthroughs in theory of spectral analysis and geoid computation. He initiated the establishing of the Canadian Geophysical Union in 1974, and served as the Union's president between 1986 and 1988. He was the first chairman of the committee for Geodetic Aspects of the Law of the Sea (GALOS), founded in Edinburgh, Scotland by the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) in 1989.
He was awarded the J. Tuzo Wilson Medal in 1996 for outstanding contributions to Canadian geophysics. He is a fellow of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, of the American Geophysical Union, and of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU). He was the first Canadian awarded the Senior Distinguished Scientist Fellowship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and was a Senior Visiting Scientist with the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Over the course of his career, he taught or performed research at universities and labs across six continents, including the Royal Institute of Technology and the USGS.
His book Geodesy: The Concepts, now translated into several languages, is a standard text for both undergraduate and graduate courses in geodesy worldwide. He also served as Editor-in-Chief and a reviewer for several scientific journals as well as on numerous scientific boards and committees.
One of his main contributions of general relevance is least-squares spectral analysis, also called the Vaníček method, a frequency spectrum computation method published in 1969 and 1971. The method is based on a least-squares fit of sinusoids to the data samples, and mitigates the drawbacks of applying Fourier analysis for analyzing long incomplete data records such as most natural datasets. His discoveries in theoretical geophysics, the "Precise Geoid Solution" in particular, enable millimetre-to-centimetre accuracy in geoid computation, an-order-of-magnitude improvement from previous solutions.
Since he was born into a typical bourgeois family, his wife and children requested to leave Communist Czechoslovakia during the brief but liberal times of Prague Spring. They were granted exit visa just before the Soviet invasion of 1968. The family reunited in England where he was staying on a 1967 Senior Research Fellowship at the University of Liverpool. Together, they immigrated to Canada in 1969. He has one daughter and two sons. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 2002, after more than thirty years of teaching at the University of Toronto and the University of New Brunswick. He lives in Fredericton, Canada.
- B.G. Harsson. "GALOS". International Association of Geodesy. (Current IAG website).
- Past Wilson Medalists: Petr Vanicek (1996). "J. Tuzo Wilson Medal". Canadian Geophysical Union.
- Geodesy: The Concepts. Peter Vanicek and E.J. Krakiwsky. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 1982 (first ed.): ISBN 0-444-86149-1, ISBN 978-0-444-86149-8. 1986 (third ed.): ISBN 0-444-87777-0, ISBN 978-0-444-87777-2. ASIN 0444877770.
- "J. Tuzo Wilson Medal citation for Petr Vaníček".
- Petr Vaníček, Nikolaos T. Christou (1994). Geoid and Its Geophysical Interpretations. CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-4227-9.
- Pagiatakis, S. Stochastic significance of peaks in the least-squares spectrum, J of Geodesy 73, p.67-78 (1999).
- Taylor J., Hamilton S. Some tests of the Vaníček method of spectral analysis, Astrophysics and Space Science, International Journal of Cosmic Physics, D. Reidel Publishing Co., Dordrecht, Holland (1972)
- Vaníček P. Approximate Spectral Analysis by Least-squares Fit, Astrophysics and Space Science, Pages 387-391, Volume 4 (1969)
- Vaníček P. Further development and properties of the spectral analysis by least-squares fit, Astrophysics and Space Science, Pages 10-33, Volume 12 (1971)
- Press et al. (2007). Numerical Recipes (3rd Edition ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-88068-8.
- UNB Precise Geoid Determination Package, page accessed 2 October 2007
- Vaníček, P., Kleusberg, A. The Canadian geoid-Stokesian approach, Pages 86-98, Manuscripta Geodaetica, Volume 12, Number 2 (1987)
- Vaníček P., Martinec Z. Compilation of a precise regional geoid, Pages 119-128, Manuscripta Geodaetica, Volume 19 (1994)
- Vaníček et al. Compilation of a precise regional geoid, pp.45, Report for Geodetic Survey Division - DSS Contract: #23244-1-4405/01-SS, Ottawa (1995)
- "Biographical Database entry for Petr Vaníček, Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU)".
- On-line geodesy resources
- Honoring the Academic Life of Petr Vaníček, (2002)
- UN Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea, Accessed: 2 October 2007
- Vaníček P., Krakiwsky E.J. Geodesy: the Concepts, pp. 714, Elsevier (1986)
- Vaníček P., Christou N.T. Geoid and its Geophysical Interpretations, pp. 370, CRC Press (1993)
- Vaníček P. Online Tutorial in Geodesy, from: Associated Press Encyclopedia of Science & Technology (2001)
- Dr. Petr Vaníček's home page at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, Accessed: 2 October 2007