Herbert A. Hauptman


Claude Simon

I was born in New York City on February 14, 1917, the oldest child of Israel Hauptman and Leah Rosenfeld. I have two brothers, Manuel and Robert.

I married Edith Citrynell on November 10, 1940. We have two daughters, Barbara (1947) and Carol (1950).

My interest in most areas of science and mathematics began at an early age, as soon as I had learned to read, and continues to this day. I obtained the B.S. degree in mathematics from the City College of New York (1937) and the M.A. degree in mathematics from Columbia University (1939).

After the war I made the decision to obtain an advanced degree and pursue a career in basic scientific research. In furtherance of these goals I commenced a collaboration with Jerome Karle at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. (1947) and at the same time enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland. The collaboration with Dr. Karle proved to be fruitful because his background in physical chemistry and mine in mathematics complemented each other nicely. Not only did this combination enable us to tackle head-on the phase problem of X-ray crystallography, but this work suggested also the topic of my doctoral dissertation, “An N-Dimensional Euclidean Algorithm”. By 1954 I had received my Ph.D. degree and Dr. Karle and I had laid the foundations of the direct methods in X-ray crystallography. Our 1953 monograph, “Solution of the Phase Problem I. The Centrosymmetric Crystal”, contains the main ideas, the most important of which was the introduction of probabilistic methods, in particular the joint probability distributions of several structure factors, as the essential tool for phase determination. In this monograph we introduced also the concepts of the structure invariants and seminvariants, special linear combinations of the phases, and used them to devise recipes for origin specification in all the centrosymmetric space groups. The extension to the non-centrosymmetric space groups was made some years later. The notion of the structure invariants and seminvariants proved to be of particular importance because they also serve to link the observed diffraction intensities with the needed phases of the structure factors.

In 1970 I joined the crystallographic group of the Medical Foundation of Buffalo* of which I was Research Director in 1972, replacing Dr. Dorita Norton. My work on the phase problem continues to this day. During the early years of this period I formulated the neighborhood principle and extension concept, the latter independently proposed by Giacovazzo under the term “representation theory”. These ideas laid the groundwork for the probabilistic theories of the higher order structure invariants and seminvariants which were further developed during the late seventies by myself and others. During the eighties I initiated work on the problem of combining the traditional techniques of direct methods with isomorphous replacement and anomalous dispersion in the attempt to facilitate the solution of macromolecular crystal structures. This work continues to the present time. More recently I have formulated the phase problem of X-ray crystallography as a minimal principle in the attempt to strengthen the existing direct methods techniques. Together with colleagues Charles Weeks, George DeTitta and others, we have made the initial applications with encouraging results.

*now Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute, Inc.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1985, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1986

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/ Nobel Lectures/The Nobel Prizes. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate.

1. Belden Prize (Gold Medal), Mathematics, 1935.
2. RESA Award in Pure Science, 1959.
3. Co-recipient (with Jerome Karle) of the 1984 PattersonAward. Presented at the American Crystallography Association in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 21, 1984.
4. Co-recipient (with Jerome Karle) of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1985.
5. Honorary degree, Doctor of Science, University of Maryland, 1985.
6. Citizen of the Year Award, Buffalo Evening News, April 1986.
7. Inducted into Nobel Hall of Science, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Illinois, April 1986.
8. Recipient of the Norton Medal, SUNY, May 1986.
9. Schoellkopf Award, American Chemical Society, May 1986.
10. Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, CCNY, May 1986.
11. Gold Plate Award, American Academy of Achievement, Salute to Excellence Weekend, Washington, D.C., June 1986.
12. Townsend Harris Medal for 1986, City College of New York, October 1986.
13. Recipient of Medal from Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences, November 1986.
14. Recipient of the National Library of Medicine Medal, November 1986.
15. Western New York Man of the Year Award, Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, 1986.
16. Honorary Member Phi Beta Kappa, May 1987.
17. Induction as a Fellow of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences.
18. 1987 Honoree, Western New Yorker of the Year, January 1987.
19. Recipient of the Cooke Award, State Univ. of New York at Buffalo, October 1987.
20. Elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 1988.
21. Honorary Doctorate in Chemistry, Univ. of Parma, Italy 1989.
22. Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, D’Youville College, Buffalo, NY (1989).
23. Elected Member of Townsend Harris Hall of Fame (1989).
24. Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, Honoris Causa, Bar-Ilan Univ., Israel (1990).
25. Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, Honoris Causa, Columbia University, New York, NY, (1990).
26. Dirac Medal for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics, University of New South Wales, Australia, January 1991.

From Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1981-1990, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Bo G. Malmström, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1992

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

Herbert A. Hauptman died on 23 October 2011.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1985

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