Portrait of John Rice

John R. Rice

John R. Rice, the W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Purdue, was one of the earliest faculty members of Purdue’s first-in-the-nation computer science program.

Professor Rice is known for his research on numerical methods and problem solving environments for scientific computing. He created a general methodology for performance evaluation of mathematical software and developed the ELLPACK system for elliptic problems, which can apply to topics ranging from the distribution of heat in a room when the furnace comes on in the winter to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Professor Rice was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1994 for "establishing and seminal contributions to the field of mathematical software." He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the major organizations of their respective fields.

He was a researcher for General Motors before joining the Purdue faculty in 1962 as a member of the recently formed Computer Science Department, which he also headed from 1983–96.

Professor Rice has published 30 books, including “Introduction to Computer Science” with J. K. Rice in 1969, which was the leading textbook in the field of its day and was translated into three languages. Among his other titles are “Mathematical Aspects of Scientific Software” (1988), “Expert Systems for Scientific Computing” (1992), and “Enabling Technologies for Computational Science” (2000). He also has published more than 300 journal articles and holds six patents in computer security covering methods to prevent the piracy of software and digital data. He founded the journal ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software in 1975 and was its editor-in-chief until 1993.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Professor Rice earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Oklahoma State University in 1954 and 1956. He received his doctorate in mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1959 and then served as a post-doctoral researcher at the National Bureau of Standards.

He showed an early interest in computing, publishing a paper titled "Electronic Brains" as a college sophomore. His initial research focused on the mathematics of approximation theory. He also has done research on scientific simulation and agent- and Web-based computing.