Klaus Samelson

Intro German computer scientist
Was Computer scientist Engineer Professor Educator
From Germany
Type Academia Engineering Science Technology
Gender male
Birth 21 December 1918, Strasbourg, France
Death 25 May 1980, Munich, Germany (aged 61 years)
Star sign Sagittarius

Klaus Samelson (December 21, 1918 – May 25, 1980) was a German mathematician, physicist, and computer pioneer in the area of programming language translation and push-pop stack algorithms for sequential formula translation on computers.

Early life

He was born in Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine, and he lived in Breslau in his early childhood years. His elder brother was the mathematician Hans Samelson. Due to political circumstances, he waited until 1946 to study Mathematics and Physics at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Munich.


After graduating, he worked briefly as a high school teacher before he returned to university. He completed his doctorate degree in Physics with Fritz Bopp with a dissertation on a quantum mechanical problem posed by Arnold Sommerfeld related to Unipolar Induction. Dr Samelson became interested in Numerical Analysis, and when Hans Piloty, an electrical engineer, and Robert Sauer, a professor of Mathematics, began working together, he joined and got involved in early computers as a research associate in the Mathematical Institute of the Technical University Munich. This changed his scientific career. His first publications came from Sauer's interests dealing with supersonic flow and precision problems of digital computations for numerical calculations of Eigenvalues. Soon after, Samelson's strong influence began on the development of Computer Science and Informatics as a new scientific discipline. With Friedrich L. Bauer, who also had Fritz Bopp as his Ph.D. advisor, he studied the structure of programming languages in order to develop efficient algorithms for their translation and implementation. This research led to bracketed structures and it became clear to Samelson that this principle should govern the translation of programming languages and the run-time system with stack models and block structure. It was a fundamental breakthrough in how computer systems are modeled and designed. Piloty, Bauer and Samelson had also worked on the design of PERM, a computer based partially on the Whirlwind concept. By 1955, the PERM was completed and they continued work that Bauer had begun in 1951 on concepts in automatic programming. Samelson played a key role in the design of ALGOL 58 and ALGOL 60. In 1958, he accepted a chair for Mathematics at the University of Mainz, and since 1963 he held a chair at the Technical University Munich where he and F.L. Bauer, began to develop a university curriculum for Informatics and Computer Science. He was involved with international standards in programming and informatics through IFIP. He became an editor of the journal Acta Informatica when it began in 1971.

Selected publications

Alan J. Perlis, Klaus Samelson, Preliminary Report: International Algebraic Language, Communications of the ACM 1(12): 8-22 (1958) Klaus Samelson, Friedrich L. Bauer, Sequentielle Formelübersetzung ("Sequential Formula Translation"), Elektronische Rechenanlagen 1(4): 176-182 (1959) Edsger W. Dijkstra, W. Heise, Alan J. Perlis, Klaus Samelson, ALGOL Sub-Committee Report – Extensions. Communications of the ACM 2(9): 24 (1959) Friedrich L. Bauer, Klaus Samelson: The problem of a common language, especially for scientific numeral work, IFIP Congress 1959: 120-124 John W. Backus, Friedrich L. Bauer, Julien Green, C. Katz, John McCarthy, Alan J. Perlis, Heinz Rutishauser, Klaus Samelson, Bernard Vauquois, Joseph Henry Wegstein, Adriaan van Wijngaarden, Michael Woodger, Report on the Algorithmic Language ALGOL 60", Communications of the ACM 3(5): 299-314, 1960 Sequential Formula Translation, Klaus Samelson, Friedrich L. Bauer, Communications of the ACM 3(2): 76-83, 1960 Comments on ALGOL 60 Maintenance and Revisions, ALGOL Bulletin, Issue 12, April 1961 Klaus Samelson, Programming Languages and their Processing, IFIP Congress 1962: 487-492 Jürgen Eickel, Manfred Paul, Friedrich L. Bauer, Klaus Samelson, A Syntax Controlled Generator of Formal Language Processors, Communications of the ACM 6(8): 451-455, 1963 John W. Backus, Friedrich L. Bauer, Julien Green, C. Katz, John McCarthy, Alan J. Perlis, Heinz Rutishauser, Klaus Samelson, Bernard Vauquois, Joseph Henry Wegstein, Adriaan van Wijngaarden, Michael Woodger, Peter Naur, Revised Report on the Algorithmic Language ALGOL 60, Communications of the ACM 6(1): 1-17, 1963 Friedrich L. Bauer, Klaus Samelson, Language Hierarchies and Interfaces, International Summer School, Marktoberdorf, Germany, July 23 – August 2, 1975 Springer, 1976 Klaus Samelson, ECI Conference 1976, Proceedings of the 1st European Cooperation in Informatics, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, August 9–12, 1976, Proceedings, Springer, 1976 Rupert Gnatz, Klaus Samelson, Methoden der Informatik für Rechnerunterstütztes Entwerfen und Konstruieren, GI-Fachtagung, München, 19./21. Oktober 1977, Springer, 1977 Klaus Samelson, Entwicklungslinien in der Informatik, GI Jahrestagung 1978, pp. 132-148 Friedrich L. Bauer, Manfred Broy, Walter Dosch, Rupert Gnatz, Bernd Krieg-Brückner, Alfred Laut, M. Luckmann, T. Matzner, Bernhard Möller, Helmuth Partsch, Peter Pepper, Klaus Samelson, Ralf Steinbrüggen, Martin Wirsing, Hans Wössner, Programming in a Wide Spectrum Language: A Collection of Examples, Sci. Comput. Program. 1(1-2): 73-114 (1981) Klaus Samelson, Friedrich L. Bauer, Sequential Formula Translation, (Reprint). Communications of the ACM 26(1): 9-13 (1983) The Munich Project CIP: Volume I: the wide spectrum language CIP-L, Springer-Verlag, 1986

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