John G. Kemeny

John George Kemeny ( ungar Kemény János György [ja ː noʃ ɟørɟ kɛme ː ɲ ], born May 31, 1926 in Budapest, † December 26, 1992 in Etna, New Hampshire) was a born in Hungary, American mathematician. He is one of the inventors of the BASIC programming language.


Janos Kemeny was born in Budapest, where he attended the prestigious Rácz - primary school. One of his Schulkamaraden was Nandor Balazs. Kemeny's father was a foreign trade merchant and went the USA in 1938 and 1940 brought his family to to escape the looming threat of persecution of Jews by the Nazis. Kemeny but lost his grandfather and other relatives in the Holocaust. Kemeny went to school in New York City ( George Washington High School) and studied mathematics and philosophy in 1945 in Princeton, suspended for one year in Los Alamos, where he worked for the Manhattan Project under Richard Feynman and John von Neumann. In 1947, he earned his bachelor 's degree at Princeton and his doctorate in 1949 Alonzo Church in mathematical logic ( Type Theory vs. Set Theory ). At the same time he was before the graduate instructor at Princeton and was while working on his doctoral thesis, a mathematical assistant to Albert Einstein at the nearby Institute for Advanced Study. In 1951 he was assistant professor at Princeton ( and later in mathematics in the philosophy department, ). In 1953 he became a professor at Dartmouth College, where he was 1955-1967 Faculty Chair. 1970-1981 he was the successor of John Sloan Dickey President of Dartmouth College, but then again devoted himself to his full -time teaching.

With Thomas E. Kurtz 1963, he developed the programming language Basic, with the destination computer to make accessible to ordinary people (hence the name: Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code ). Your first Basic program started on May 4, 1964 and her book this appeared in 1967. Moreover, they developed the early time-sharing computer system DTSS ( Dartmouth Time Sharing System), which made ​​it possible for multiple users to work simultaneously on a computer. Your system was used in 1965 by General Electric as a basis for a commercial product. Kemeny and short- founded True Basic 1983 to market an improved version of Basic.

Kemeny let his experiences with computers also feed into the teaching of mathematics by introducing finite Mathematics courses, with probability theory, logic and linear algebra (matrices ). A number of known textbooks emerged from it.

In 1979 he was chairman of the Commission for the Investigation of the nuclear accident at Three Mile Iceland.

Kemeny was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1967. In 1984 he was awarded the New York Academy of Sciences. In 1986, he received the Medal of the IEEE computer. In 1990 he received the Louis Robinson Award. He received 21 honorary doctorates.

He was married in 1951 and had two children.


  • With J. Laurie Snell & Gerald L. Thompson: Introduction to finite mathematics. 1957, 1960, 1962.
  • With J. Laurie Snell: Mathematical models in the social sciences. Boston, Ginn 1962, MIT Press 1972.
  • With J. Laurie Snell & Gerald L. Thompson: Finite Mathematical structures. In 1959.
  • With J. Laurie Snell & Anthony W. Knapp: denumerable Markov chains. 1966