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Poems That Solve PuzzlesThe History and Science of Algorithms$
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Chris Bleakley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198853732

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198853732.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 January 2021

Weather Forecasts

Weather Forecasts

Chapter:
(p.55) 4 Weather Forecasts
Source:
Poems That Solve Puzzles
Author(s):

Chris Bleakley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198853732.003.0004

Chapter 4 tells the story of numerical weather forecasting from its inception to today’s supercomputing algorithms. In 1922, Lewis Fry Richardson proposed that, since the atmosphere is subject to the laws of physics, future weather can be predicted by means of algorithmic calculations. His attempt at forecasting a single day’s weather by means of manual calculations took several months. In the late 1940s, John von Neumann resurrected Richardson’s idea and launched a project to conduct the first weather forecast by computer. The world’s first operational electronic computer – ENIAC - completed a 24-hour forecast in just one day. It appeared that accurate forecasting simply required faster computers. In 1969, Edward Lorenz discovered that tiny errors in weather measurements can accumulate during numerical forecasting to produce large errors. The so-called Butterfly Effect was alleviated by the Monte Carlo simulation method invented by Stanislaw Ulam for particle physics.

Keywords:   algorithm, computer, numerical weather forecast, chaos theory, Butterfly Effect, simulation, ENIAC, Lewis Fry Richardson, John von Neumann, Stanislaw Ulam, Edward Lorenz

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