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Granino A. Korn

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Granino A. Korn

May 7, 1922 ~ December 17, 2013

Granino A. Korn passed away on Tuesday, December 17, 2013, at the age of 91, a great scholar and accomplished scientist. Those who knew him will remember him as a caring individual, who was always more interested in helping others and in giving, than in taking or demanding.

Granino (“Nino”) Korn was born in Berlin, Germany on May 7, 1922. At the age of 17, he immigrated with his parents to the United States and attended William and Mary in Virginia, Columbia University, and Brown University, where he completed his Ph.D. degree in Physics and Mathematics, following wartime service in the U.S. Navy. He and his young wife, Theresa (“Terry”) lived in a travel trailer to quickly move to many places where his skills would be required in the aircraft industry. These included Sperry Gyroscope, Curtiss-Wright, Boeing, and Lockheed. In 1957, Nino and Terry settled in Tucson with their two young children, Anna and John, where Nino accepted a job as Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Arizona.

Nino soon became interested in simulation. In the 1960s, he built the fastest analog computers in the world. He and his wife, Terry, an engineer and pilot in her own right, won international acclaim for their Mathematical Handbook for Scientists and Engineers, along with many other books and publications. Not only was Nino instrumental in helping the Electrical Engineering Department rise to the ranks of the top 50 EE Departments nationwide, he also helped establish Tucson as a center of research in electronics and aviation. He was the founder of the Computer Engineering program at the University of Arizona. Nino retired from the University of Arizona by the end of 1983, at the age of 61. By that time, the University of Arizona had become one of the top centers worldwide for research in simulation technology.

In retirement, he founded GA & TM Korn Industrial Consultants and continued research in computer simulation, developing computer programs for interactive simulation of dynamic systems and neural networks, and writing more books. A Fellow in the IEEE, he was also recognized with many awards. These included the John McLeod Founder’s Award and election to the Simulation Hall of Fame by the Society for Computer Simulation (SCS). He was also awarded the Alexander von Humbolt Prize, and lectured widely in Europe and Japan.

Nino loved the Southwest as much as he adored nature. He was never happier than when he was able to camp with a boat on Lake Powell, living off striped bass that he pulled from the lake. Nino and Terry never cared for luxury. He frequently remarked that “men don’t need more than an orange robe and a rice bowl,” and that is how he lived. After his retirement, Terry and he returned to the nomadic life of their youth. They bought a summer home at Lake Chelan with a boat anchored next to it and pulled a travel trailer in which they spent their winters, usually in Arizona, Nevada, or California.

Nino was always unassuming, and he loved to mentor junior faculty. Terry’s and his home was always open to anyone seeking their advice and friendship… and to any creature needing their help. While other people take in stray cats and dogs, Nino and Terry adopted a monkey and kept a visiting caiman named “Cookie” in their bathtub. Unaware guests froze in terror when Cookie’s alligator-like head would pop up from underneath the sofa on which they were sitting.

Nino’s other fascination had always been with computers. Computers occupied every free space in their home, and he made it his personal challenge to search for ways to simulate large sets of differential equations as efficiently as possible. He wrote several textbooks on digital simulation and later on neural network technology. He remained scientifically active until his death.

Those who had the honor to be acquainted with Nino have lost a great friend and esteemed colleague. The world has lost one of its last true pioneers in simulation technology.

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