Leslie Comrie

Leslie Comrie

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Leslie Comrie

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Leslie John Comrie (15 August 1893 – 11 December 1950) was an astronomer and a pioneer in mechanical computation.

Life

Leslie John Comrie was born in Pukekohe (south of Auckland), New Zealand, on 15 August 1893.He attended Auckland University College (part of the University of New Zealand) from 1912 to 1916, graduating with BA and MA degrees with Honours in Chemistry. During World War I, despite severe deafness, he saw action in France with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and lost his left leg in February 1918 to a British shell. While convalescing he started using a mechanical calculator and went on to modify commercial calculators for specific projects.

Comrie was the first director (1920–1922) of the Computing Section of the British Astronomical Association. In 1923 he received a PhD from St John's College of the University of Cambridge. He traveled to the USA to teach at Swarthmore College and then Northwestern University in 1924 where he pioneered the teaching of numerical analysis. He returned to England to join HM Nautical Almanac Office at the Royal Greenwich Observatory where he became deputy superintendent in 1926.

In April 1928 his article On the Construction of Tables by Interpolation described the use of punched card equipment for interpolating tables of data, comparing this with the less efficient and more error-prone methods using mechanical devices such as...
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