Alston Scott Householder

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Alston Scott Householder
Born5 May 1904
Died4 July 1993 (1993-07-05) (aged 89)
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Known forHouseholder operator
Householder transformation
Householder's method
Scientific career
FieldsNumerical Analysis
Linear Algebra[1]
InstitutionsOak Ridge National Laboratory[2]
Thesis The Dependence of a Focal Point Upon Curvature in the Calculus of Variations  (1937)
Doctoral advisorGilbert Ames Bliss[3]

Alston Scott Householder (5 May 1904 – 4 July 1993) was an American mathematician who specialized in mathematical biology and numerical analysis.

He is the inventor of the Householder transformation and of Householder's method.


Householder was born in Rockford, Illinois, USA. He received a BA in philosophy from the Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois in 1925, and an MA, also in philosophy, from Cornell University in 1927. He taught mathematics while preparing for his PhD, which was awarded at the University of Chicago in 1937. His thesis dealt with the topic of the calculus of variations.

After receiving his doctorate, Householder concentrated on the field of mathematical biology, working with several other researchers with Nicolas Rashevsky at the University of Chicago.

In 1946, Householder joined the Mathematics Division of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he was appointed chair in 1948; it is during this period that his interests shift toward numerical analysis. In 1969 he left ORNL to become Professor of Mathematics at the University of Tennessee, where he eventually became chairman. In 1974 he retired and went to live in Malibu, California.

Householder contributed in different ways to the organisation of research. He was president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He was a member of the redactional committees for Psychometrika, Numerische Mathematik, Linear Algebra and Its Applications, and was editor in chief of the SIAM Journal on Numerical Analysis. He opened up his wide personal bibliography on numerical linear algebra in form of a KWIC index. He also organized the important Gatlinburg Conferences, which are still held under the name Householder Symposia.

Personal life[edit]

Householder spent his youth in Alabama. He was first married to Belle Householder (died 1975, children: John and Jackie) and remarried 1984 to Heidi Householder (née Vogg). He died in Malibu, California, USA in 1993.

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ "HH11 - Householder Award - HH11".
  2. ^ "The History of Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing".
  3. ^ Alston Scott Householder at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ Young, G; Householder, A.S. (1938). "Discussion of a set of points in terms of their mutual distances". Psychometrika. 3: 19–22. doi:10.1007/BF02287916. S2CID 122400126.

External links[edit]