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Handbook of Mathematical Functions With Formulas, Graphs, and Mathematical Tables (AMS55)
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This volume is the result of the cooperative effort of many persons and a number
of organizations. The National Bureau of Standards has long been turning out
mathematical tables and has had under consideration, for at least 10 years, the
production of a compendium like the present one. During a Conference on Tables,
called by the NBS Applied Mathematics Division on May 15, 1952, Dr. Abramo-
witz of that Division mentioned preliminary plans for such an undertaking, but
indicated the need for technical advice and financial support.
The Mathematics Division of the National Research Council has also had an
active interest in tables; since 1943 it has published the quarterly journal, “Mathe-
matical Tables and Aids to Computation” (MTAC), editorial supervision being
exercised by a Committee of the Division.
Subsequent to the NBS Conference on Tables in 1952 the attention of the
National Science Foundation was drawn to the desirability of financing activity in
table production. With its support a %day Conference on Tables was called at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology on September 15-16, 1954, to discuss the
needs for tables of various kinds. Twenty-eight persons attended, representing
scientists and engineers j using tables as well as table producers. This conference
reached consensus on several conclusions and recommendations, which were set
forth in tbe published Report of the Conference. There was general agreement,
for example, “that the advent of high-speed computing equipment changed the
task of table making but definitely did not remove the need for tables”. It was
also agreed that “an outstanding need is for a Handbook of Tables for the Occasional
Computer, with tables of usually encountered functions and a set of formulas and
tables for interpolation and other techniques useful to the occasional computer”.
The Report suggested that the NBS undertake the production of such a Handbook
and that the NSF contribute financial assistance. The Conference elected, from its
participants, the following Committee: P. M. Morse (Chairman), M. Abramowitz,
J. H. Curtiss, R. W. Hamming, D. H. Lehmer, C. B. Tompkins, J. W. Tukey, to
help implement these and other recommendations.
The Bureau of Standards undertook to produce the recommended tables and the
National Science Foundation made funds available. To provide technical guidance
to the Mathematics Division of the Bureau, which carried out the work, and to pro-
vide the NSF with independent judgments on grants for the work, the Conference
Committee was reconstituted as the Committee on Revision of Mathematical
Tables of the Mathematics Division of the National Research Council. This, after
some changes of membership, became the Committee which is signing this Foreword.
The present volume is evidence that Conferences can sometimes reach conclusions
and that their recommendations sometimes get acted on.
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are contributions of the National Institute of Standards and Technology that are not subject to copyright in the United States.