Ellen Fetter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ellen Cole Fetter
Alma materNew Trier High School
Mount Holyoke College
Known forChaos theory
Scientific career
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Florida State University
InfluencesEdward Norton Lorenz

Ellen Cole Fetter Gille is an American computer scientist. She worked with Edward Norton Lorenz on chaos theory.

Early life and education[edit]

Fetter was born to Frank Fetter and Elizabeth Garrett Pollard.[1] Her mother created an endowment for chamber music at Swarthmore College, which has been supported by successive generations of her family.[2] Fetter attended the Ecole Préalpina in Chexbres, Switzerland[3] and New Trier High School, from which she graduated in 1957.[4] She studied mathematics at Mount Holyoke College and graduated in 1961.[5]


In 1961, Fetter interviewed with a member of the team who used a LGP-30 in MIT's Department of Nuclear Engineering, who recommended her to Margaret Hamilton.[6] Hamilton soon moved on to another project, and Fetter took over the computational work for Edward Lorenz's research, plotting the motion of a particle experiencing fast convection in an idealised beaker.[6] The work was the foundation of chaos theory.[6] Fetter’s contribution was acknowledged by Lorenz ‘Special thanks are due to Miss Ellen Fetter for handling the many numerical computations’ in his frequently referenced paper.[7]

In 1963, Fetter married John Gille, who was studying geophysics at MIT.[3] They moved to Florida State University, where she worked on programming for several years.[6] In the 1970s, she and her husband moved to Colorado, where Gille is now a senior scientist emeritus at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.[8] Fetter took computer science classes at the University of Colorado Boulder, but soon left to work in tax preparation.[6]

Fetter's daughter, Sarah Gille, studied physics at Yale University. She now works in physical oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.[9]


  1. ^ "Deaths" (PDF). Friends Journal. 1992. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  2. ^ dpulley1. "Fetter Chamber Group Gives Back | Music and Dance". Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  3. ^ a b Times, Special to The New York (1963-07-14). "John Gille to Wed Miss Ellen Fetter". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  4. ^ "New Trier Class of 1957". newtrier57.org. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  5. ^ College, Mount Holyoke. "Honor Roll". blog.mtholyoke.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  6. ^ a b c d e Sokol, Joshua. "The Hidden Heroines of Chaos". Quanta Magazine. Retrieved 2019-05-24.
  7. ^ Lorenz, Edward N. (1963-03-01). "Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow". Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences. 20 (2): 130–141. doi:10.1175/1520-0469(1963)020<0130:DNF>2.0.CO;2. ISSN 0022-4928.
  8. ^ "John Gille | staff.ucar.edu". staff.ucar.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-28.
  9. ^ "Sarah Gille". Retrieved 2019-07-01.