At this year’s APS March Meeting I will be presenting a talk:
Abstract: A33.00005 : The Metropolis Algorithm and the women who programmed it (and how it’s related to the hydrogen bomb)
Monday, March 6, 8:48 AM–9:00 AM pacific time in room 225.
This talk will expand upon the work originally reported in my dissertation. The dissertation is behind a paywall, but feel free to contact me and I can provide you a PDF.
In recent years, there has been a huge interest in rediscovering the lost contributions of women and other minorities to science. Here we shine light on yet another such hidden figure: Dr. Arianna Wright Rosenbluth, co-inventor of the Metropolis Monte Carlo method, which is, by any measure, one of the most important algorithms ever developed. Monte Carlo describes a wide range of numerical techniques that use random numbers. The Metropolis algorithm generalized this initially specialized method to solve any equilibrium statistical physics problem (and indeed, many problems outside of physics). Since its introduction in 1953, it has become the most common form of Monte Carlo and spread beyond physics to chemistry, biology, social science, finance, and even pure math; its use is now so widespread that it is commonly mistaken for being a synonym for Monte Carlo itself. Arianna Rosenbluth, herself a child prodigy and fully-qualified physicist, wrote the first complete computer implementation of the Metropolis algorithm. In this talk, I will describe the historical and scientific context for this revolutionary algorithm and its connections to the development of the hydrogen bomb.
Other writing about Arianna Wright Rosenbluth
A. Iaizzi, Magnetic Field Effects in Low-Dimensional Quantum Magnets, p. 5, Springer Theses (Springer, Cham, Switzerland, 2018). doi:10.1007/978-3-030-01803-0
Arianna Wright Rosenbluth unfortunately passed away in December 2020. Her passing was marked by a eulogy in the New York Times: Arianna Rosenbluth Dies at 93; Pioneering Figure in Data Science. She also got some fascinating coverage in the March 2022 edition of APS News.
I’m proud to say that FECS has put together and excellent program of invited talks this year, including talks on non-academic careers and on the early career experience in times of crisis. Check out all the details here.
B51: The Early Career Scientist Experience in Times of Crisis and Struggle
Monday March 6, 11:30 am-2:30 pm PST, Location: Room 321
31.03.00 FECS Postdoctoral Poster Competition (G00)
Tuesday, March 7, 2:00-5:00 pm, Location: Exhibit Hall (Forum Ballroom)
M51: What Do Early Career Physicists Do?
Wednesday March 8, 8:00-11:00 am PST, Location: Room 321
Q50: International Perspective for Young Physicists from Particle to Materials
Wednesday March 8, 3:00-6:00 pm PST, Location: Room 320
L70 FECS Reception
Tuesday, March 7, 6:15 – 7:00 pm PST, Location: Room 409
If you’re still here and you are an early career scientist (postdoc, junior faculty, recent graduate in industry), or if you just care about the well being of early career scientists, you may want to consider joining the APS Forum for Early Career Scientists (FECS). It’s free for APS members.
This work is not a part of my current employment. The opinions expressed here are my own.