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Petr Vaníček

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Petr Vaníček
Born (1935-07-18) 18 July 1935 (age 88)
Alma materAcademy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Czech Technical University
Known forVaníček method
Precise Geoid
Canadian Geophysical Union
AwardsJ. Tuzo Wilson Medal
Scientific career
FieldsGeodesy & Geophysics
Thesis Anharmonic Analysis and Its Applications in Geophysics  (1967)
Academic advisorsEmil Buchar
Notable studentsAttila Komjathy, Caltech
Steven DeLoach, USACE[1]
HE Galo Carrera

Petr Vaníček (born 18 July 1935) is a Czech Canadian geodesist and theoretical geophysicist who has made important breakthroughs in theory of spectrum analysis and geoid computation.

Main contributions[edit]


One of Vaníček's main contributions of general relevance is least-squares spectral analysis,[2] also called the Vaníček method[3] and the Gauss-Vaniček method[4] — a frequency spectrum computation method published in 1969[5] and 1971.[6] It 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.[7] Unlike with Fourier analysis, data need not be equally spaced to use Vaníček analysis.

His discoveries in theoretical geophysics, the "precise geoid solution"[8] in particular, enable millimetre-to-centimetre accuracy in geoid computation, an-order-of-magnitude improvement from previous solutions.[9][10][11]


Vaníček initiated the establishing of the Canadian Geophysical Union in 1974, and served as the Union's president between 1987 and 1989.

He was the first chairperson of the United Nations committee for Geodetic Aspects of the Law of the Sea (GALOS), founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, by the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) in 1989.[12][13]

This and other activities led to creation of the technical supplement to the Law of the Sea, TALOS (Manual on Technical Aspects of the United Nations' Convention on the Law of the Sea) in 1982, which is on a regular re-issuing schedule by the UN. The Geodetic Commentary to the TALOS Manual, largely prepared by Vaníček and published by the International Hydrographic Organization in 1996, was incorporated into the Manual.[14]

The book Geodesy: The Concepts,[15] by Vaníček and Krakiwsky, now translated into several languages, is a standard text for both undergraduate and graduate courses in geodesy worldwide.[16][17]

Vaníček also served as editor-in-chief and peer-reviewer for several scientific journals as well as on numerous scientific boards and committees.[18]

Awards and recognition[edit]


Petr Vaníček is a member 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 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.[19]

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.[19]

In 2022 he received the Medal of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic.[20][21]


Petr Vaníček was awarded the J. Tuzo Wilson Medal in 1996, the highest recognition by the Canadian Geophysical Union, for his outstanding contributions to Canadian geophysics.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Since he was born into a typical bourgeois family, Petr Vaníček's 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.[19]

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.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stephen R. DeLoach, PE, LS, Deputy Chief, Engineering and Construction, Headquarters U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Featured Guest, Insights. American Society of Civil Engineers Industry Leaders Council.
  2. ^ Pagiatakis, S. Stochastic significance of peaks in the least-squares spectrum, J of Geodesy 73, pp. 67–78 (1999).
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ M. Omerbashich (26 June 2006). "Gauss-Vanicek spectral analysis of the Sepkoski compendium: no new life cycles". Computing in Science & Engineering. 8 (4): 26–30. arXiv:math-ph/0608014. Bibcode:2006CSE.....8d..26O. doi:10.1109/MCSE.2006.68.
  5. ^ P. Vaníček (1 August 1969). "Approximate Spectral Analysis by Least-squares Fit" (PDF). Astrophysics and Space Science. 4: 387–391. Bibcode:1969Ap&SS...4..387V. doi:10.1007/BF00651344. OCLC 5654872875. S2CID 124921449.
  6. ^ P. Vaníček (1 July 1971). "Further development and properties of the spectral analysis by least-squares fit" (PDF). Astrophysics and Space Science. 12: 10–33. doi:10.1007/BF00656134. S2CID 109404359.
  7. ^ Press; et al. (2007). Numerical Recipes (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88068-8.
  8. ^ UNB Precise Geoid Determination Package, page accessed 2 January 2014
  9. ^ Vaníček, P., Kleusberg, A. The Canadian geoid-Stokesian approach, Pages 86-98, Manuscripta Geodaetica, Volume 12, Number 2 (1987)
  10. ^ Vaníček P., Martinec Z. Compilation of a precise regional geoid, Pages 119-128, Manuscripta Geodaetica, Volume 19 (1994)
  11. ^ 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)
  12. ^ B.G. Harsson. "GALOS". International Association of Geodesy. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  13. ^ B.G. Harsson. "Geodetic aspects of the Law of the Sea (GALOS)". International Association of Geodesy. Archived from the original on 26 June 2022. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  14. ^ Preface to the Manual on Technical Aspects of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (TALOS), 6th Ed. (C-51). International Hydrographic Organization, Principauté de Monaco, www.iho.int
  15. ^ Geodesy: The Concepts. Petr 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.
  16. ^ WorldCat Identities for: Vaníček, Petr 1935-
  17. ^ "J. Tuzo Wilson Medal citation for Petr Vaníček".
  18. ^ Petr Vaníček, Nikolaos T. Christou (1994). Geoid and Its Geophysical Interpretations. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8493-4227-1.
  19. ^ a b c d "Biographical Database entry for Petr Vaníček, Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU)". Archived from the original on 4 July 2011.
  20. ^ "Medalists of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic | Awards | The Learned Society of the Czech Republic". www.learned.cz. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  21. ^ "University of New Brunswick - Emeritus Professor, Petr Vanícek receives award for his contribution to Canadian-Czech friendship". Education News Canada. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
  22. ^ Past Wilson Medalists: Petr Vanicek (1996). "J. Tuzo Wilson Medal". Canadian Geophysical Union. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012.

External links[edit]

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by President of the Canadian Geophysical Union
Succeeded by
Douglas Edwin Smylie