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Women Heroes: Klára Dán von Neumann

Klára Dán von Neumann was a remarkable figure and a true inspiration to all who aspire to greatness in the field of programming. Her incredible contributions to the world of mathematics and engineering are nothing short of legendary.


Early life

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Klára's natural talents were evident from a young age. Klára Dán was born to Károly Dán and Kamilla Stadler, a wealthy Jewish couple, in Budapest, Hungary on August 18, 1911. Her father, who was previously an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army during World War I, moved the family to Vienna to avoid the Hungarian Soviet Republic led by Béla Kun. They returned to Budapest after the regime was overthrown. Klára's family was affluent and often hosted parties where she met people from different walks of life. She became a national champion in figure skating at the age of just 14.She attended Veres Pálné Gimnázium [hu] in Budapest and graduated in 1929.

Career

Following her marriage to John von Neumann, Klára moved to the United States, where she settled in Princeton, New Jersey. Her incredible skills and knowledge were soon put to use in the "Head of Statistical Computing Group" at Princeton University, where she made significant contributions to the war effort during World War II. Later, she worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she worked on calculations for the Manhattan Project.

One of Klára's most significant achievements was her work on programming the MANIAC I machine, which had never been done before. She was responsible for translating complex mathematical instructions into a language that the computer could understand.


Her work required her to look up "codes" that corresponded to instructions for the computer. She also designed new controls for the ENIAC and was one of its primary programmers.Klára's contributions to programming were truly groundbreaking, and her work on the Monte Carlo method, ENIAC, and MANIAC helped to revolutionize the field. She trained a group of people drawn from the Manhattan Project to store programs as binary code and wrote the code for the first computer simulation of the Monte Carlo method.

It's unfortunate that women like Klára are often overlooked and forgotten in the field of STEM . However It's important to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women in all fields, and work towards creating a more inclusive and diverse society.


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