Irene Stegun

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Irene Ann Stegun (February 9, 1919 – January 27, 2008)[1] was a mathematician at the National Bureau of Standards who, with Milton Abramowitz, edited a classic book of mathematical tables called A Handbook of Mathematical Functions, widely known as Abramowitz and Stegun. When Abramowitz died of a heart attack in 1958, Stegun took over management of the project and finished the work by 1964, working under the direction of the NBS Chief of Numerical Analysis Philip J. Davis, who was also a contributor to the book.

Stegun began her mathematical career during the Second World War. After teaching mathematics at a Catholic school in New York, she joined the Planning Committee of the Mathematical Tables Project of the WPA. In that role, she learned the basics of numerical analysis from the committee's chair, Gertrude Blanch. While working at the Mathematics Tables Project, she completed a master's degree in mathematics at Columbia University.[2]

In 1948, Stegun and a handful of other members of the Mathematical Tables Project moved to Washington, DC, where they set up the Computation Laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards, now NIST. She eventually rose to assistant chief of the Computation Laboratory at NBS. In 1965, Stegun was awarded a Gold Medal from the Department of Commerce for her efforts in completing the project. She held the position of assistant chief of the Computing Lab until she became the interim director in 1965.


  1. ^ "Obituary Stegun, Irene A.". The Journal News. 2008-01-29. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. 
  2. ^ Grier, David Alan (August 2006). "Irene Stegun, The Handbook of Mathematical Functions and the Lingering Influence of the New Deal". American Mathematical Monthly. 113 (7): 585–597. doi:10.2307/27642002.