In Memoriam: Marvin Stein

The Department of Computer Science & Engineering mourns the death of Professor Marvin Stein, who passed away peacefully on February 27, 2015 at the age of 90. Professor Stein is affectionately referred to as "the father of Computer Science at the University of Minnesota."

Stein was part of the founding of the Computer Science Department at the University, serving as its initial department head, and he was the first to acquire supercomputers for our campus. Stein grew up in Los Angeles, California where he graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1941 and continued his education at UCLA.  While at Roosevelt, Stein met Ruth Meyerson, who had car pooled with him to UCLA. He and Ruth married on July 15, 1944.

Shortly after enrolling at UCLA, Stein decided to take a break from college to enlist in the United States Army during WWII. After serving his country, Stein resumed his education at UCLA, earning a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1951. After working at the UCLA Institute for Numerical Analysis (1948-1952), he became a research engineer at Convair in San Diego, California, working on the development of the Atlas missile.

In 1955, Stein joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota. Upon his arrival, Stein began work on the foundations of matrix iterative methods that lie at the heart of computational modeling in modern engineering. Many consider Stein’s courses to be the start of the University’s computer science curriculum. In 1961, Stein was promoted to full professor. Although he spent his entire academic career at the University of Minnesota, he was also a visiting professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science (1963-1964). He later became director of the Numerical Analysis Center, taught the University's first courses in high-speed computation, and created with others the graduate program in Computer and Information Sciences in 1967.

In 1970, Stein served as founding department head for computer sciences. He had an important role in the discovery of the conjugate gradient method for solving systems of linear equations and he was the principal inventor of the Stein-Pope division method and the Stein-Rose sorting algorithm. His children fondly remember their dad making his huge flashing computers punch out cards shaped like Mickey Mouse and, years later nodding sagely while they showed him their iPads. Stein continued as a professor until 1997, when he retired and was awarded the title Professor Emeritus.

The Marvin L. Stein papers are held in the University of Minnesota Archives.