Seymour Parter discusses his career in mathematics, numerical analysis, and computing.
Parter grew up in Chicago and attended its public schools, and he received a bachelor's and master's degree in mathematics from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. At IIT, he wrote a master's thesis on generalized metric spaces under the supervision of Karl Menger. In March of 1951, he took a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory and was soon sent to the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, DC, to master to computing on the SEAC. On his return to Los Alamos, 8 months later, he was assigned to program under the direction of Robert Richtmyer. He was subsequently sent to the Atomic Energy Commission computing facility at New York University to work on problems for Los Alamos on the new UNIVAC machine. While an employee of Los Alamos, he began working on a PhD in mathematics, finishing his thesis with Lipman Bers in 1957. Upon finishing his degree, Parter decided to try academia, taking jobs at MIT and Indiana, where he held joint appointments in mathematics and in the research computing centers. He subsequently held an assistant professorship at Cornell and a visiting position at Stanford, before taking a permanent position in mathematics at Wisconsin. Parter discusses his work in complex analysis (quasi-conformal maps), sparse matrix theory and its connection to graphs, numerical methods for partial differential equations, iterative methods, and preconditioners for numerical solutions of matrix equations. He retired from Wisconsin in 1996. For the future, he stresses the importance of working on meaningful solutions to stochastic problems in biology and physics rather than just relying on simulation.