Thursday, August 27, 2009

My pop's obituary

Yoshio Shimamoto, a nuclear physicist who also did work in mathematics and computer science, died Thursday in Franklin Park, N.J.

In 1971, Dr. Shimamoto presented a proof of the Four Color Theorem that was subsequently shown to be flawed, but still served as the basis for Ph.D. theses and other works at Harvard, Princeton, Waterloo, and the University of Illinois.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1924, Dr. Shimamoto served during World War II with the Army Signal Corps in Washington, D.C ., and the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in Japan. Following graduate studies at Harvard and the University of Rochester, he joined the Reactor Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory in 1954 and went on to work in the Nuclear Engineering Department and Applied Mathematics Division there. In 1958, he was responsible for the logical design of Brookhaven's MERLIN digital computer.

From 1964 to 1975, Dr. Shimamoto served as chairman of the Applied Mathematics Department at Brookhaven, responsible for management of research in mathematics and computer science. In this capacity, he also managed the laboratory's central scientific computing facility and oversaw the funding, procurement, and development of a laboratory-wide computer network.

After resigning as chairman at the end of the first year of a third five-year term, Shimamoto devoted himself to research in combinatorial mathematics, the economics of Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas lease sales (on behalf of the U.S. Geological Survey), the architecture of supercomputers, and the linking of computers for parallel processing.

During his tenure at Brookhaven, Dr. Shimamoto held concurrent appointments with the University of Illinois; the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission's Mathematics and Computer Science Research Advisory Committee; the Technische Universitat in Hannover, West Germany; the Universitat Karlsruhe, West Germany; and the University of Tokyo. In 1972, he received the Senior Scientist Award from the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, a non-profit organization that promotes cooperation in international research. Dr. Shimamoto retired in 1987.

Dr. Shimamoto is survived by his wife, Kimie, of Skillman, N.J.; a daughter, Kiyomi Camp, of Belle Mead, N.J.; a son, Ken, of Fort Worth, Texas; six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and brother Frank Shimamoto of Naples, FL.


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