Department of Mathematical Sciences

History of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University

Robert E. Haymond


Dr. Robert (Bob) Haymond was the first mathematician at Clemson who specialized in computational mathematics. The reader will find his credentials in the material below. When he arrived in Clemson, computer use required that users write programs in a variant of FORTRAN on a paper form, take it to a 80-column card punch "window" and wait for the results which were usually generated within 24 hours. The program errors were then corrected on a paper form and taken back to the computer center. This was repeated until acceptable results were obtained. Bob immediately shortened the turnaround time to about 2 hours (no small accomplishment) and then Bob managed to get a number of Courier terminals in our department with direct input to the campus mainframe (a major improvement). He developed several simulation courses at the undergraduate and graduate level and initiated programs of study in computational mathematics. The following slightly edited "user profile" article by John Trice appeared in our Computer Center Newsletter in the days Clemson was using an IBM 3081 mainframe computer. Trice has been in our Computer Center for many years.

"I first met Dr. Bob Haymond in 1971 when I was a second semester freshman majoring in mathematics and minoring in statistics. Dr. Haymond was the guest lecturer at a Math Club meeting. Dr. Haymond gave a talk on computer simulation of the card game Solitaire. He discussed techniques for shuffling the deck, playing cards, and printing the results. He showed how he had introduced different strategies into the Blackjack game and instead of deriving the answer of what was the best strategy mathematically, he had derived it computationally using modeling techniques. I was fascinated. I remember going to him after the presentation and talking to him in more depth about his models. I also remember going to my advisor the next day and changing my minor to computer science. Since that time, I have taken four courses from Dr. Haymond. I have modeled everything from Insanity Cubes to an elevator on a ten-story building and from a doctor's office to a clock. I still find modeling fascinating.

"Bob said he forgot the name of the school where he got his undergraduate degree; but "it was some school in Columbia that has a chicken as a mascot." He received his master's degree from Cal Tech and his doctorate degree from the University of Oregon. Both of his graduate degrees were in number theory. Afterwards he taught at the University of California at Riverside, and then he began his computing career at the Sandia Laboratory in Albuquerque. From New Mexico he moved to Baltimore to work on targeting problems for the Polaris Missile at the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins.

"Bob loved to talk to his students about varying topics: music, the University structure, strategies to use in Pac Man, etc. He also gave great parties for his students and interested faculty."

The following tribute (again with slight editing) to Dr. Haymond was provided to the department just after Bob's death in 2007 by Dr. Tom Mertens.

"I was a student of Bob's in the 1973–1977 timeframe and Bob and I remained very close after I graduated. Bob was the best teacher I ever encountered. His greatest ability was the construction of problems to illustrate an idea or problem solving technique. His problems were often hard but the difficulty was never without purpose. I encountered difficult problems with other professors as well but all too often finding the solution only left me tired. Solving one of Bob's problems always left me better educated. This is what drew me to him. No matter how difficult I found the work he assigned, it was always worthwhile.

"Bob's standards were high and he was very careful in selecting his PhD students, but once a student was selected Bob was dedicated to the student's success. As long as a student was working hard Bob was very patient and supportive. I don't know, because Bob had a number of students that I never met, but I would be surprised if more than a very small number left without their degree. When I graduated he was 4 for 4.

"Many in the math sciences department may not be aware of Bob's tutoring both before and after his retirement. He helped scores of people not only pass but excel in courses they feared. He tutored typical college age students but also adults and children as young as 10. The only thing he asked in return was genuine effort on the part of the student.

"Bob liked his students and took a genuine interest in them. He entertained graduate students in his home often, something greatly appreciated by those of us living on an assistantship.

"I have worked as a programmer in the defense industry for close to thirty years at this time and have made great use of the methodology Bob taught. Recently, however, I encountered a direct application of Bob's work in discrete simulation. This is the work that formed the basis for the dissertations of Al Jones, Magdi Matar, Harland Hodges and my own (as well as others).

"We are simulating the C-130 Self Contained Navigation System (SCNS) (pronounced "skins") on a standard desk top PC. The real system consists of 4 computers and a host of navigation equipment and displays connected through a variety of interfaces. The computers in this system are old enough that their instruction sets can be simulated on a desktop PC much faster than they actually run. As a result we are able to simulate the simultaneous execution of these 4 computers faster than they run in the real world. We actually slow things down in order to simulate real-time.

"The difficult part of this (many here believed impossible) becomes how to go about sequencing, on a single computer, the simultaneous execution of 4 simulated computers communicating with each other and a host of other simulated navigation equipment. The answer to that problem is the event sequencing methodology developed in the research Bob directed some 30 years ago.

"Additional detail about the work we're doing is available at Click on the "Platform Support" button and then on the "IDE" button."

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