Great Engineers & Scientists Blog

Great Engineers & Scientists

In 1676, Sir Isaac Newton wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." In this blog, we take Newton's words to heart, and recognize the many great engineers and scientists upon whose shoulders we stand.

So who do you think of when you hear "Great Engineer"? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add him or her to the pantheon. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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Athanasios Papoulis

Posted August 29, 2006 2:30 PM
Pathfinder Tags: April 25

Note: CR4 would like to thank Peter R for identifying this great engineer.

Athanasios Papoulis was a Greek-American engineer and applied mathematician who wrote more than 150 papers and nine books, including Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic Processes, a standard textbook that still is used by graduate-level probability courses in electrical engineering.

Papoulis was born in Greece in 1921 and earned degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics from the National Technical University in Athens and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His areas of specialization included signal processing, digital communications, and signal and system theory. A gifted lecturer, Papoulis taught at Polytechnic Brooklyn University from 1952 until his retirement in 1991. The professor emeritus then returned to the classroom from 1992 to 1994. According to Charles M. Rader, a former student who has written several books about signal processing, "professor Papoulis was a human dynamo" whose lectures offered a "wonderful way of bringing mathematics to life." Papoulis' daughter Irene, who is now a professor at Trinity college in Connecticut, remembers that her father "was proud when people said that his lectures were performances."

Papoulis' seminal work was originally published in 1965 and is now in its fourth edition. Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic Processes balances mathematical rigor with intuition and identifies engineering applications for probability theory. The first half of the text defines probability and statistics from first principles and describes probability distributions and densities, random variables and vectors, functions of random variables and vectors, co-variance, correlations, and expectations. In the mathematics of probability, stochastic processes are random functions in which the function's domain is usually a time interval. Real-world applications are the focus of the second half of Papoulis' book, with a particular emphasis on electrical engineering. The fourth edition of Probability, Random Variables and Stochastic Processes was co-authored with S. Unnikrishna Pillai of Polytechnic University and contains a substantial amount of new material .

Athanasios Papoulis died on April 25, 2002 at the age of 81.



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